Vavi confirms he has filed court papers to challenge suspension

2013-09-13 16:40

Suspended labour federation Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said he was challenging his suspension by the federation in court because it was “unfair”.

Vavi confirmed that he had filed court papers today to challenge his suspension.

“The only reason I felt I needed to take the matter up in court is because the whole thing was unfair. I have made my case in court papers and that’s where the matter is at this stage,” Vavi said.

Vavi, who was suspended by the federation after he confessed to having had sex with a junior worker at Cosatu headquarters in Johannesburg addressed thousands of marchers in Bhisho in the Eastern Cape today.

He said those who wanted to silence him would not succeed and pointed out that he was addressing the march, against the healthcare crisis in the province, as a citizen of South Africa and not in his capacity as general secretary of Cosatu.

“I am not participating here as general secretary of Cosatu. But I am participating here as the son of my father (Mavenjana) who was a mine worker and later a farm worker,” he said.

He said he was feeling pressure from people who wanted to silence him, but will not do so.

“The pressure is that I must stay away from the public. My voice must disappear and nobody must hear what I think or what I believe in.”

Hinting that maybe he won’t campaign for the ANC next year, Vavi, who grew up in the Eastern Cape, said he had been naive to believe that the ANC-led government would fight corruption, as he had been made to believe when campaigning for the party before the last general elections.

The march was organised by the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Coalition and saw close to 3 000 people from the civil rights movement and NGOs march from Bhisho Stadium to Health MEC Sicelo Gqobana’s offices.

The suspended general secretary lashed out at politicians and public servants for not being accountable.

“The only way we can get public healthcare right in this province is if we ensure that every politician, from the president to the ward councillor … is forced to use public hospitals, so that all of us can go through the humiliation our people go through every day,” he said.

“If the children of the presidents, ministers and directors-general go through that humiliation, I can bet with my last cent that a working National Health Insurance would have been introduced long ago,” Vavi said to loud applause.

He said hospitals like the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha, where healthcare was on its knees, were an insult to former president Nelson Mandela.

In an apparent swipe at the provincial government, which is rebranding the Eastern Cape as the home of legends, with faces of former liberation struggle stalwarts on billboards across the province, he said they would be disappointed in the current state of health in their province.

“This is not what Nelson Mandela fought for, this is not what Steve Biko and Chris Hani died for, and what Oliver Tambo spent 30 years in exile for,” he said.

He said today politicians were only concerned about enriching themselves.

“Government must do what we vote them to do, not all this other nonsense happening in our country, of self-enrichment by the leaders who long have come to the conclusion that our people are only voting cattle and important only during elections,” Vavi said.

Mark Heywood, director of NGO Section 27, said they were giving government 30 days to come up with a plan to address the problems faced in the health sector in the province.

“We cannot allow the situation to continue. Across the province there is shortage of medicine, staff and equipment. The hospital and clinics are broken. It’s a crisis. People are dying unnecessarily,” Heywood said.

Newly appointed head of department Dr Thobile Mbengashe, who accepted the memorandum on behalf of the department of health, said he noted the time frame and promised problems would be addressed.

“The minister and the MEC will make a statement soon regarding the issues that you are bringing to the fore,” he said.

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