Vavi: I’m the product of a living wage

2012-09-18 14:58

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has held himself up as an example of a leader who was once poor but who now runs the danger of losing touch with the people.

He said when he started working he lived in a space no bigger than a garage, but as his wage grew, he moved to Vaal Triangle and eventually to the leafy suburbs of Johannesburg when he started earning a “living wage”.

Vavi, who earns R500 000 a year, lives in Sandton.

“My children go to to schools which were all model C schools, I am on medical aid, and when the kids fall sick, I don’t go to Charlotte Maxeke (public) hospital where you can wait up to eight hours just to get a pain killer,” he said.

He said instead he goes to Netcare Sunninghill hospital, “where there is first class service”.

He also said he moves in middle class social circles and socialises with friends who are middle class.

“The danger is if you are not careful, you will have a leadership that relates to society from the comfort zones they live in,” he said.

He quoted communist philosopher Karl Marx, who said material conditions shape consciousness.

“If you have a leadership that is so far removed from the people, the danger creeps in that you might not take up issues that affect them directly,” he said.

Vavi urged trade union leaders to take up the fight of the poor with the same enthusiasm as their fight for a living wage.

» Follow @carienduplessis and @City_Press for updates from the congress.

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