Vavi: Shaken, not stirred

2013-07-28 10:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rape allegation could give Vavi’s opponents the ammunition they need to knock him off his perch.

Zwelinzima Vavi’s political career could be sunk by the rape and extortion scandal that rocked headlines around the country this weekend.

The 50-year-old unionist has been fighting to keep his job over the past few months as his rivals within the union federation have pushed for an ­investigation into his role in the sale and purchase of buildings for labour federation Cosatu, as well as a probe into whether he is still ­ideologically suitable to lead.

This is not the first time the married father of six – from both his current and previous marriages – has been accused of sexual misconduct.

In 2006, then Cosatu president Willie Madisha compiled a dossier in which he ­accused Vavi of sexually harassing a married female Cosatu employee. The charges did not stand.

Around the same time, Vavi was also accused of using the federation’s ­credit card to bankroll an extra-marital affair, using it to splurge on his and his mistress’ foreign trips without the federation’s knowledge.

His mistress, Noluthando, later ­became his wife.

City Press reported on how her distraught former husband Bheki Ngema tried in vain to get Madisha to institute disciplinary proceedings against Vavi, and to force Vavi to fork out R700?000 “as compensation so my children would not suffer much”.

Then, Cosatu stood by its general secretary.

It may still do so now.

A Cosatu source sympathetic to Vavi says the timing of this week’s allegations against the former mine ­worker is suspicious, surfacing months ­after the alleged rape took place.?“I think the woman is being used (by the anti-Vavi leaders).

“The affair is not being disputed. But the rape, no,” he said. “Vavi’s main (public) issue is corruption, not sexual morality.”

Vavi, who lives in Sandton, may not be a paragon of virtue on matters ­sexual, but he has styled himself as a committed family man.

Occasionally he posts images of his baby twins on Twitter to his 91?000 followers.

He recently told City Press that his large family offers him a refuge from the stress of political life.

He has been outspoken on sexual violence too.

An influential pro-Vavi union leader linked this weekend’s accusations to ongoing fights within the federation, insisting that Vavi will stay on.

“He should survive. Do you think this is neutral?” he asked.

Vavi’s opponents are said to be mulling over the scandal, and may want to use it to push him out.

Some delegates on the sidelines of the ANC national ­executive committee lekgotla in Pretoria last weekend discussed its ­implications.

Vavi said this week his life was in danger, and his family wanted him to quit politics to save him.

But the rape allegations cast this claim in a ­different light altogether.

Nevertheless, he says, he will not quit.

The question, though, is whether Vavi can come out of this unscathed and retain his credibility and popularity as a leader of the 2.2?million-member Cosatu.

His 14-year career in the federation could come to an end.

It is unlikely Vavi’s adversaries would use an extramarital affair to force him out, given that the many men in trade unions do not view this as a grave offence.

But an accusation of rape is a grave charge.

National Union of Mineworkers president Senzeni Zokwana was lauded when he told a 2006 union congress that Calvinistic morality was not the only game in town at a time when Jacob Zuma’s suitability to hold public office was being questioned.

He said: “We are not Christians. We don’t listen to the 10 commandments and we don’t have to listen when Christians tell us adultery is wrong.”

But unlike Zuma in 2006, Vavi is swimming against the political tide.

Also caught in the act

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is not the first local politician to be embroiled in a sex or rape scandal.

Here are some others:

»?Jacob Zuma

In December 2005, Zuma was charged with the rape of an HIV-positive family friend in what was to become one of the country’s major sex scandals in recent history. He was acquitted in May 2006.

»?John Steenhuisen

The DA’s KwaZulu-Natal leader was forced to resign in 2010 after an affair with the party’s provincial spin?doctor Terry Kass-Beaumont became public.

»?Narend Singh

News of the 2006 sex scandal followed the emergence of a DVD of a tryst between Singh and Roseanne Narandas, wife of jeweller Bob Narandas.

By then, the DVD had been sold around Durban for weeks.

Singh resigned his post as Kwazulu-Natal MEC for arts, culture and tourism, but remained a member of the provincial legislature for the IFP.

»?Fikile Mbalula

In 2011, the sports minister had an affair with model Joyce Molamu, whom he paid R10?000 to have an abortion. They had sex twice, said Mbalula, who publicly apologised.

»?Malusi Gigaba

The public enterprises minister was sued for R1.7?million in 2011 by a friend, Luka Sandhlane, for having an affair with his wife and ruining their marriage. Gigaba apologised to Sandhlane, who reconciled with his wife.

»?Albert Mncwango

The former IFP national organiser had his rape conviction and 10-year sentence overturned by the Pietermaritzburg High Court in 2005. Mncwango – who spent 19 days in jail before successfully appealing – said the rape charge was trumped-up to destabilise the IFP’s elections campaign at the time.

»?Mbulelo Goniwe

Goniwe was axed as ANC chief whip and MP in 2006 after being found guilty of sexual harassment. He asked ANC parliamentary administrative assistant Nomawele Njongo to have sex with him after she helped serve dinner to guests at his home.

»?Jonas White

The Cederberg mayor was kicked out of the ANC last month for allegedly sending an image of his genitals “embellished with a strawberry and cream” to his deputy, Lorna Scheepers. He is also facing a criminal investigation for alleged sexual harassment.

– Xolani Mbanjwa

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News
Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a mixed energy of harmony and tension that can surface today. The Jupiter Venus conjunction brings an element of luck and...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.