Did he or did he not? This is a question on many people’s mind following reports that Zwelinzima Vavi was accused of raping a 26 year-old woman. Vavi is the General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the young lady who made the allegations works together with him at Cosatu House. This makes Vavi her boss and at age 50 also a father figure. This story took many twists and turns with the lady accusing Vavi of rape while he argues that they had consensual sex.
This escapade apparently took place in one of the offices in Cosatu House. The woman has subsequently dropped the charge of rape and sexual harassment while Vavi still mulls over his next move regarding these damaging allegations. He had laid a charge of extortion after the supposed rape victim demanded R2 million from Vavi in exchange for her silence. It has since emerged that she was offered R1 million by Vavi’s “enemies” to help them bring down the Cosatu strongman.
In South Africa almost every prominent politician has enemies and faceless individuals who constantly plot their downfall. There are apparently conspirators and people with nefarious motives who are behind attempts to unseat Cosatu’s General Secretary. It is claimed that they are ones responsible for the troubles following Vavi. On SAFM there was a discussion this week about conspirators and the possibility that they might be involved in this saga.
What is the real issue?
All of this brings me to a question. Should the focus be about those who seek to use Vavi’s infidelity to their advantage or should the issue be about infidelity? It is expected that there will be people who would seek to gain mileage from Vavi’s lapse because this is how the game of politics is played in South Africa. However, by engaging in illicit sex, Vavi is the one who gave his supposed enemies ammunition against him.
Most of all, he has committed adultery which is an act that is repugnant to God and those who respect the sanctity of marriage. I know that adultery is not illegal in this country but it is with God. The incident surrounding Vavi was compared by some to the rape accusations against President Jacob Zuma. Vavi was projected as an innocent victim as was Zuma when he faced rape accusations.
In both situations the insinuation is that women are planted and used against powerful men. This suggests that these men are unable to control themselves when they are in the presence of a female. The fact that these men are married and are more than twice the age of their sexual partners is hardly mentioned. I am concerned about the moral quotient of this nation but have to remind myself that we as Christians have not been good role models either.
We also have our own scandals that we sweep under the carpet or some that we rationalise. What is interesting about Vavi is the fact that many have been seeing him as a moral crusader because of his outspoken stance against corruption. Has he now been compromised? Has he lost the moral high ground? As a seasoned politician I think he will ride this one out. This is despite the fact that Cosatu is considering charging him for misconduct and bringing the party into disrepute.
Do you notice that no one has ever been charged for bringing the country into disrepute or damaging the reputation of the country? This is despite any position a person occupies in the governance of the nation. Consideration is only given for the “party” and its reputation. What does this tell us? It tells us that it is up to us ordinary citizens to defend and uphold the country. Political parties and trade unions have narrow interests.
They will only pick those fights that pertain to the wellbeing of their members even if everyone else suffers. A case in point is a protracted teachers’ strike which ends up disadvantaging pupils. Our country has a big leadership vacuum and it seems to be getting bigger by the day. This could either get us disillusioned or spur us into action. We could and should respond to this call for morally-upstanding citizens to take up active roles in society.
(Photo of Zwelinzima Vavi: SOWETAN)