Zwelinzima Vavi has been targeted because he has dared to speak truth to power, on unemployment, the absence of service delivery, on corruption, and many other issues, says Walter Theledi, the general secretary of the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU).
In a statement released today Theledi joined a list of people rallying around the beleaguered general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). Vavi has been trusted into a major crisis after news broke that he stands accused of sexually assaulting a Cosatu employee early this year. Vavi has denied the accusation and claims to have had consensual sex with the Cosatu employee and has apologised for an adulterous . Cosatu has set up a process to get to the truth.
Theledi said in speaking truth to power Vavi “has incurred the wrath of those with career ambitions and those waiting to enjoy the fruits of office by legal or other means”.
“Sexual harassment is a serious matter, and our policy on tackling and eradicating it is crystal clear. There is a grievance procedure in place to investigate and pronounce on this matter, and it must be allowed to take its course unhindered by external forces”.
Theledi said the Vavi matter must be treated in view of the principle of innocent until proven guilty. “Regrettably there are those who have clearly ‘leaked’ all manner of internal documentation to try and discredit Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi, and who have engaged in malicious rumour mongering for factional advantage. That they should want to gloat and exploit recent events is predictable if also highly regrettable”.
“As the General Secretary of SAMWU I am ready to accept that Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi is capable of making mistakes, after all we are all human. However I have no doubt in my own mind that Comrade Zwelinzima enjoys the support of vast numbers of union members, and of the general public because of what he stands for. Those who are jealous and fearful of his popularity, and who are attempting to discredit him must be made aware, that if they continue to act for faction advantage they themselves will be judged one day to have betrayed the people of this country”.