JOHANNESBURG – The South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) is in crisis with some members accusing general secretary Zenzo Mahlangu of running the union as if it is his own business.
Some Satawu delegates from the Western Cape and Eastern Cape said they were locked out of the meeting held in Johannesburg on Friday because they come from five provinces facing disbandment for differing with Mahlangu on a number of issues.
“So we decided on our own that we will come here, because we believe that this is the central executive committee that will take a decision about us, not him. That is why we are here. Now we are relying on comrades who are inside there to come and give us a report of what is happening,” said Satawu Eastern Cape secretary Zandile Phakathi.
But Mahlangu said the special central executive committee meeting did not have powers to remove provincial leaders.
“No no no, whoever says that is highly mistaken, the CEC can't do that. Even if there was friction it can't do that. Provincial office bearers are elected in the provinces. If there are issues with their leadership, it is done there,” said Mahlangu.
He said the purpose of the meeting was to choose a replacement for Satawu president June Dube, deputy secretary Nicholas Maziya and a third office bearer who had all resigned last year.
For some, the infighting and divisive leadership battles are reminiscent of the April 2015 tensions, which led to the brutal assassination of the union’s Gauteng provincial secretary Chris Nkosi.
Dismissed Western Cape secretary Thembela Dakuse said.“I believe that when Chris died a day before his PEC [provincial executive committee meeting], he had a report on an investment arm that we own as Satawu, that is controlled by one person, Zenzo Mahlangu. He is the group CEO, he is everything in that investment arm. And Chris was going to table that in his PEC.
"Now I don't know whether they will decide that I'm a liability, I talk too much or whatever. But I believe that's one of the reasons I've been dismissed at the moment by Zenzo, as unconstitutional as it is. If that happens it happens,” she said.
No one has been arrested for Nkosi’s assassination.