Numsa Official Position on the Withdrawn Sexual Harassment Allegations against the General Secretary of Cosatu

We have carefully read and analysed the evidence before the public on the sexual harassment allegations against the General Secretary of Cosatu, Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi.

We have noted that Comrade Vavi has profusely apologised to all South Africans, the working class and indeed most important of all, to his wife and family, for his poor judgment over the matter of infidelity.

We have further carefully noted and analysed the thousands of voices that have spoken over this matter in the print, electronic and audio media.
We have also noted the responses from within our own Numsa regions and other affiliates of Cosatu.

We have also noted the response from the African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL).

The allegation itself has since been withdrawn.

It is a mark of internal great personal moral strength, in the midst of public humiliation, to acknowledge one’s failings, one’s faults. Comrade Vavi has apologised for the pain his personal and private mistake has caused us all.

We wish both families speedy recovery, and, hard as this may be, a return to their normal lives.

At Numsa, we will be carefully watching and analysing the responses from all the enemies of the working class who, for some time now, have mounted a sustained attack on the person of the General Secretary of Cosatu, in their efforts to divide and weaken the working class and its revolutionary federation.

We will be looking out for signs that these anti-revolutionary working class forces that are hell bent on destroying the federation, and thus irreparably fragmenting and weakening the power of the revolutionary working class in this country, try to migrate a private and personal matter into an organisational matter, in Cosatu.

We want to state this very categorically from the outset: we will isolate and defeat these forces with the revolutionary unity and determination of the two million members of Cosatu to defend their revolutionary federation.

Comrade Vavi has publically been humiliated and acknowledged his personal failing, and apologised to all and sundry. The matter has been withdrawn before the federation. The matter of extortion is with the police. That is as far as it should go, in the federation. We will fail to read anything else other than cheap opportunism, or clear conspiracy, should anyone seek to further place Comrade Vavi under duress over this matter, in the federation.

We have noted the strange views from the ANCWL. The complainant chose on her own, we must believe, to make the allegations at Cosatu, instead of reporting to the police. The ANCWL implies that this was wrong, and would prejudice the case of the woman. The ANCWL says Cosatu could never afford the complainant the kind of protection the formal rape charges before the police would have afforded her. In the ANCWL view Cosatu “could not offer the comprehensive protection, support and assistance to the complainant as it would be the case within the legal system.”

Further, the ANCWL is worried that the charges have been withdrawn barely two hours into the proceedings. The ANCWL is “worried and disconcerted” by the withdrawal of the allegation, especially considering that the complainant “has gone to the tremendous trouble of publicly stating her position in various platforms, including the media.”

Nowhere in the ANCWL statement do they make even a hint that Comrade Vavi could be innocent. They instead conclude that the withdrawal of the allegations would harm future similar efforts in the workplace to seek justice by rape and sexual harassment victims.

Further, the ANCWL says that “…….. it was clear from the onset that any outcome on this serious allegation will be taken within the realm of perceived internal occurrences within Cosatu, which will undermine the credence of any pronouncement on this matter.”

By implication, is the ANCWL, suggesting, even remotely, that the complainants own choice of platform to seek justice was doomed to fail because of the internal occurrences within Cosatu, and since Comrade Vavi is at the centre of these “occurrences” he therefore is responsible for preventing a just hearing in Cosatu over this matter?

We reject, in the strongest terms, the negative insinuations against both Cosatu and Vavi implied in the ANCWL statement on this matter.

Whatever happened with the famed “presumption of innocence until proved guilty” in the ANCWL, especially in clearly toxic political climates such as surrounds the General Secretary of Cosatu?

Suffice to note and record, for historical purposes, that the ANCWL, as a formation of the ANC which is leader of the Alliance to which Cosatu belongs had all the opportunities available to it to raise their concerns on this matter with Cosatu before rushing to produce a media statement and releasing it.

Numsa has established a functioning national gender structure and has adopted a clear sexual harassment policy that applies throughout the union. This is because, from a class perspective, we are convinced that the working class cause for real freedom, equality and dignity for and between the sexes – socialism – is only harmed by the subordinate, humiliating, insulting and demeaning position which our inherited patriarchal and capitalist system imposes on women, both in the home and at work. We therefor fight for genuine equality between the sexes.

At Numsa we view the automatic assumption of innocence or guilty of any party to an allegation as extremely dangerous and suspicious, and against the very grain of the struggle for genuine equality and freedom between the sexes. In all our utterances on this matter, we have based our comments on the available facts in the public domain.

The ANCWL fails to refer to any facts, or past practices at Cosatu, to back their suspicions.

We are sad, further, at the selective amnesia and discrimination being practiced by the ANCWL, in this instance. The Liberation Movement in the recent past has dealt with very grave rape allegations, and, we are not aware of any similar response from the ANCWL.

Is the ANCWL not aware of the massive attack on the person and political life of the General Secretary of Cosatu, to the extent that this does not merit any mention in their statement?

We will be looking to have an audience with the national leadership of the ANCWL to share our views, on the goings on, in Cosatu, should they so wish to be enlightened.

Now that this matter before Cosatu has been dealt with, we at Numsa will be looking to Cosatu and Comrade Vavi to get back to work to confront the numerous challenges confronting the country in general and the working class in particular.

E-tolls, youth wage subsidy to bribe the bosses to loot very cheaply the labour of young workers, mass unemployment, extreme poverty now affecting the working class of all races and the middle class, extreme inequality, a dysfunctional education system, a sick public health system, labour brokers, a collapsing local government establishment, the cancer of corruption in the public and private domains, the pathetic conditions of our rural population, massive levels of violent crime – these are the things our Cosatu 11th Congress last year elected Vavi to lead the working class, in confronting.

All these evils and many more, are much racialised, greatly affecting African youth and woman and are nothing but a symptom of our failure in the past 18 years to uproot and destroy the colonial character of our economy and society. And Vavi is under attack precisely for unfailingly pointing this out!

We repeat: the complainant has withdrawn the allegations at Cosatu. Vavi and his family have been humiliated by being associated with rape. Vavi has apologised for his personal failing. The extortion matter is before the police. It is time for the federation to get back to work, to defend the working class!

Vavi must start to work on the things the 11th Congress elected him for. The country needs him. The Working class demands he do so, now, not tomorrow!

Issued by Numsa General Secretary

Irvin Jim, General Secretary, 073 157 6384