Vavi faces suspension over new complaint

29 July 2013 - 02:24 By DOMINIC MAHLANGU
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is being accused of rape and of breaking Cosatu employment rules. He is fighting back with a charge of extortion against the rape accused and a claim of a political war against him
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is being accused of rape and of breaking Cosatu employment rules. He is fighting back with a charge of extortion against the rape accused and a claim of a political war against him
Image: DANIEL BORN

A complaint of misconduct and flouting of regulations is expected to be laid against Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi this week, starting a formal process to have him suspended.

The complaint is that Vavi employed a woman - who is now accusing him of rape - without following due processes.

Cosatu members who are to bring the complaint this week want the trade union federation to investigate whether Vavi flouted its rules when he hired the 26-year-old woman.

According to the Sunday Times, the woman was hired at Cosatu a year ago without being properly interviewed.

"We met at his office, just me and him. We discussed the salary package, but no paperwork was signed at that stage. There wasn't even an interview. Vavi said he would inform the other office-bearers," she told the paper.

Cosatu is expected to start a formal internal investigation of the rape allegation today. The woman claims Vavi raped her in January this year. He is expected to attend the inquiry.

A senior Cosatu official who spoke on condition of anonymity said yesterday a new charge would be brought against Vavi to explain how the woman was employed by the federation.

"Reading her statement where she states that no formal interview was conducted is clear that Vavi flouted [employment] rules. We want Cosatu to investigate the entire employment process," he said.

Cosatu national spokesman Patrick Craven said yesterday he was not at liberty to comment on internal Cosatu processes.

Another senior official, who is familiar with the running of the federation's administration, said once a complaint was lodged and a decision taken to investigate, Vavi would be asked to "step aside".

"That is standard procedure. He must give the internal process space to work and complete its work."

Vavi - who has opened a case of extortion against the woman and her husband after they allegedly demanded about R2-million to walk away - is fighting another bitter internal inquiry after being accused of having benefited personally from the sale of the old Cosatu building in Johannesburg.

That probe, conducted by negotiators Petrus Mashishi and Charles Nupen, has led to more dirt being piled up against Vavi in recent weeks.

Vavi, a fierce critic of the ANC leadership under President Jacob Zuma, said at the weekend that he was ready and willing to appear before any legitimate body to clear his name on the rape allegations.

He said that for years he had been contending with consistent threats to his life , political assaults and efforts to destroy his contribution to the struggle of the working class and the poor.

Efforts to destroy him had intensified, he said.

"I am unable not to view this matter [the rape accusation] in the same light."

Those in Cosatu who support Vavi said they expected "every ammunition to be used against their comrade" and he should be afforded the space to defend himself.

Two of the affiliates in Vavi's corner, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the Food and Allied Workers Union, said they were concerned, yet not entirely surprised, about the new front in the onslaught against Vavi.

Numsa in KwaZulu-Natal said yesterday it would defend Vavi in the same way it had defended other leaders of the alliance when they were accused of rape, a reference to Zuma.

"We refuse to suffer from selective amnesia, but we want to be principled and consistent, since the parallels are obvious and similar," said Numsa.

Fawu said the latest onslaught, in the form of allegations of sexual impropriety or even rape, came on the heels of a failing attempt to link Vavi to administrative impropriety.

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