Editor's noteOpinion

Why Vavi must quit Cosatu

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi should quit now and not wait for the union's federation to decide his fate.

The popular trade unionist breathed a momentary sigh of relief when a 26-year-old employee dropped a sexual assault grievance against him, two hours into an internal hearing.

Now he looks set to face the music over his admission that he did more than just work with the subordinate in her office, and over the manner in which she was hired.

In an interview on M-Net’s Carte Blanche, Vavi admitted he thought he would get away with his extra-marital affair.
He told the presenter: “It was more like an office romance. We never went out to watch movies or go out for lunch and dinners. I wouldn’t risk taking out a woman, as a public figure.”

Vavi said he thought she was mature and that it was in neither of their interests that their dirty linen was aired in public.

He said: “I thought I had deleted the SMSes… I have a responsibility to the public. I can’t just say ‘sorry, life goes on’. I will have to earn their trust again.”

Vavi knows he was wrong to have an affair – with a married woman, nogal. This is further proven by his admission that they never appeared in public together, because they couldn’t risk being seen.

He denied not following procedures when he hired the woman, but this can be disputed too. Processes have to be followed, even when employees have been head-hunted or are hired for a short-term.

The general secretary is loved by the poor and workers. He says what the people want to hear. He understands labour issues better than most: Vavi is the people’s leader.

When there is a sensitive issue that Cosatu does not agree with, like the e-tolling debacle, Vavi is not afraid to clash with his ANC political alliance masters.

But this time he has gone too far. The people he represents will no longer look at him as the leader who would break all barriers for them.

Vavi has crossed a line; a point of no return. He should do the honourable thing and quit – with his reputation still, relatively, intact.

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