Calls to expel Israeli ambassador from South Africa

The ANC (African National Congress), its alliance members, Cosatu and the SACP (South African Communist Party), and pro-Palestinian organisations held a press conference at Cosatu House earlier today, denouncing the Israeli government for denying Minister Blade Nzimande and his delegation visas to enter Palestine.  


PRO-PALESTINE ALLIANCE: Members of COSATU, SACP, BDSSA, YCL, and SAUS, amongst others at Cosatu House announcing their plans to boycott Israel earlier today. Photo: Zimasa Mpemnyama

Various African National Congress-aligned and pro-Palestinian organisations vowed today that they would force the South African government to expel the Israeli ambassador, amongst other demands.

The demands, in response to Israel’s refusal to grant a visa to Minister Blade Nzimande and his delegation to travel to Palestine, were announced at a press conference held this afternoon at Cosatu House.

Organisations present at the press conference included the South African Communist Party (SACP), Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), Young Communist League (YCL), South African Students Congress (SASCO), the South African Union of Students (SAUS), and members of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions South Africa (BDSSA), amongst others.

The organisations said they believed that Nzimande, the minister of Higher Education and Training, was denied access to Palestine because of Israel’s “apartheid” laws.

“The embassy of Israel must go.”

The acting National Spokesperson of Cosatu, Norman Mampane, said Blade Nzimande’s stance against Isreal should not be viewed as his individual views, but rather as ANC policy, adopted by the ANC National Executive Committee.

Government given an ultimatum

Mampane highlighted an action plan that included requesting the ANC government to impose bans on Israeli nationals travelling to South Africa, holding a national meeting with Student Representative Councils (SRCs), from universities around the country to discuss an academic boycott of Israel, and calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, Arthur Lenk, from South Africa within 10 days.

“It’s clear that they [Israel] don’t want to talk … so in ten days if the embassy is not closed, we will go and close it ourselves,” said Matome Chiloane, Chairman of the Gauteng ANCYL.

Bheki Ntshalintshali, Cosatu Deputy General Secretary said that they are not surprised by the Israeli government’s decision to deny Minister Nzimande a visa, because the “Israeli government has been consistent in denying Palestinian people their freedom”.

“The embassy of Israel must go,” Ntshalintshali said.

Nzimande was invited to Palestine to discuss and participate in the launch of the Centre for African Studies at a Palestinian university. Nzimande did not attend the press conference.

Cosatu under attack, who’s next?

Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), gave his lawyers instruction to challenge the CEC’s (Central Executive Committee), decision to place him on special leave after he was found guilty of having improper relations with a junior Cosatu employee.

Vavi claims that Sdumo Dlamini, Cosatu president, handed an intelligence report to the CEC members to discredit him and force him out of Cosatu. Dlamini has denied the allegations.

The report claims that Vavi and other prominent members of South Africa want to overthrow the government of South Africa.

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) general secretary Irvin Jim said they have lost all confidence in Sdumo Dlamini and that there was a concerted effort by forces within and outside Cosatu to turn it from being a fighting Federation to a “toothless”, “labour desk” organisation.

Numsa said there was a “political conspiracy” to discredit Vavi and that state organs were being abused to spy on Vavi,

Numsa “worried” about Cosatu credibility

Vavi OUT, who's next?: Irvin Jim tells press conference political "forces" that got Vavi out are now after him and Numsa president Cedric Gina. Irvin Jim (Numsa general secretary) and Karl Cloete (deputy general secretary). Photo: Thuletho Zwane

Vavi OUT, who’s next?: Irvin Jim tells press conference political “forces” that got Vavi out are now after him and Numsa president Cedric Gina.                                                                              Photo: Thuletho Zwane

Irvin Jim, general secretary of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), said there was a political conspiracy to get rid of Zwelinzima Vavi.

“We are of the view that it has become very clear that there is a programme that Zweli’s head must be chopped,” said Jim. He said there were forces within the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP) and other sections of Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) that weren’t interested in matters of the working class and the poor.

Jim said these forces of capitalism wanted to ensure Cosatu embraced the neo-liberal National Development Plan (NDP) reducing Cosatu into a “labour desk of the bourgeoisie”.

Ideological battle between the ANC, Cosatu and Numsa

He said Vavi has become a target of the ANC because he wanted Cosatu to implement the Freedom Charter and has spoken out against the implementation of the NDP.“There is double speak [within the ruling party]. Speaking left but walking right. Vavi has consistently put forward the issues of the working class and the poor,” he said.

Cosatu’s credibility questioned

Jim said Numsa was worried about the credibility of Cosatu. “We are very worried about the leadership of the federation.[pullquote] there is a programme that Zweli’s head must be chopped[/pullquote] We have lost confidence in comrade Sidumo Dlamini,” he said. He added that Numsa members were “up in arms” about Vavi’s suspension. He told the press they are certain state apparatus and state institutions were centrally involved and used to get rid of proponents of radical thought.

Allegations of political conspiracy

Jim refused to provide evidence of a conspiracy but said everything would unfold in due time. “I am refusing to speak on this thing. I know what has not being reported. When I send an sms, it has been intersected. We thought it was a small thing, we know now it is not a small thing,” he said.

Numsa has rejected the decision of the central executive committee (CEC) to place Vavi on special leave pending investigation and is consulting with their lawyers to over-turn the decision.


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Wits Vuvuzela. Vavi: It’s a conspiracy, August 16, 2013



Vavi: It’s a conspiracy

I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER: Zwelinzima Vavi revealed evidence of a political conspiracy. Photo: Thuletho Zwane

I’VE GOT YOUR NUMBER: Zwelinzima Vavi revealed evidence of a political conspiracy.                                                                            Photo: Thuletho Zwane

The atmosphere outside Braamfontein’s Parktownian Hotel was fraught with tension and expectation, as supporters of beleaguered Cosatu secretary-general danced and chanted slogans of support for Zwelinzima Vavi (@zwelinzima1) asking why he was being targeted.

“uyenzeni u vavi?, we Sdumo awu phendule,” asked the crowd as they waited for him to address his first press conference since his suspension.  Sdumo Dlamini is the president of Cosatu.

Inside, Vavi, sporting a red National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA) tee shirt ,  provided the answer when he handed out two sets of documents that he said revealed a plot to turn the labour union “into a labour desk of the governing party”.

Fake intel report reveals conspiracy

One document was a letter from his lawyers challenging the legitimacy of the committee that suspended him. The other was an annexure to the letter, and reproduced an “intelligence document” that Vavi said revealed a plot by those “waiting in the long queues of the corruption trough” to blacken his name and the names of those who were fighting for the working classes.

“One of the intentions of the so-called intelligence report is clear: to destroy Cosatu,” Vavi said.

Vavi claimed the report was being distributed by those whose aim was to divide Cosatu, as well as “discredit and destroy a number of other prominent South Africans such as Tokoyo Sexwale, Judge Dikgang Moseneke, Cyril Ramaphosa, Irvin Jim etc.” “It aims to create paranoia to achieve its aim of annihilating its opponents.”

Doctored conversations

The document contains transcripts of meetings and telephone conversations, with Vavi discussing amongst other things plans to join Julius Malema’s party the Economic Freedom Fighters.

Vavi said the document was a complete fabrication doctored by “rouge” intelligence agents under the influence of factions in tripartite alliance.

At a number of stages during the press conference Vavi took deep breaths and the weight of the allegations against seemed to tell. He said nowhere else would  having a consensual relationship with a co-worker, demand the dismal that his detractors were gunning for.

“If Jesus was to return… [he] would be surprised at some of the people throwing stones.”

Vavi said he had apologised for his mistake, and that the incident was being used to remove him as general-secretary via trail by media. “I face no criminal allegations as I stand before you now,” Vavi said in response to a question of whether it would not be best for him to just step down.

Vavi sets to challenge legality of suspension

Vavi said he had instructed his lawyers to challenge his suspension, citing amongst other things that Dlamaini and other members of committee that suspended him had prejudiced themselves by circulating the “intelligence report” and publicly declaring him guilty.

Vavi said Dlamini denied circulating the report. Earlier on in a Numsa press conference the  federation’s secretary general Irvin Jim  said they had no confidence in Dlamini as a leader.

SLICE OF LIFE: The power of women

PreleneThings are not always what they seem. Cliché I know. But if we look critically at society, we can see that people are programmed to listen to and believe what is socially acceptable. This is not necessarily anyone’s fault nor is it a shame to admit that sometimes you do not think beyond what is presented to you in the media and the people around you.

With the stirring reports of sexual harassment on our campus over the last few months and the massive problem of rape in South Africa, I started to think maybe there is more to the situation than we force ourselves to believe.

After watching the Carte Blanche television interview on Sunday night with Zwelinzima Vavi, I was surprised to hear his reaction to the rape accusations made against him. He was shockingly forth coming about his endeavours with this woman who made these accusations. He admitted to having an affair with her and apologised for his actions. He also recognised his mistake and took full responsibility for this.

I watched this interview fives inches away from the television screen. I watched for those uncertain twitches, those wandering eye balls and guilty hand gestures; however to my disappointment I did not see them. Vavi was shockingly composed and sincere.

Among the many things he said, one important line stood out to me: people who are in powerful positions often get sexual advances from women in their work space because of their authoritative stance. It’s the whole idea of power relations between people.

I remember a woman who made a significant impression on me. She once said: “There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise.”

I believe that sometimes women are more intelligent, more devious and more strategic than we as a population give them credit for. In this constantly changing and erratic world we live in, people are money and career driven. Women have a particular power which few men can withstand – the power of seduction.

The Victorian era is an example. For those who are not literary enthusiasts, in this era women used their beauty and seduction to gain the highest advantage over men. Beauty was seen as the definition of character and in a day where women were slaves to men, aesthetics was the one thing women used to get their way.

As much as women are the general victims of sexual harassment, sometimes and I emphasise sometimes, it is not only one sided. Women can offer men something they desire in order to get what the woman wants. It may be financial support, career-jumping opportunities or whatever else they need in their personal lives in return for sexual favours.

During my research for all the harassment stories we covered in Wits Vuvuzela, I was repeatedly made aware of this by readers of the paper. Harassment on campus is not just between lecturers and students but also between students and students. I cannot help but think that a university campus is the perfect breeding ground for harassment because of the need to succeed and push forward in life. Here, more than anywhere else, I think it is important to consider that women can and will take advantage of what is presented to them.

By the same token, though, it is still the responsibility of any lecturer – as the person who holds the power in the relationship – to resist any attempts to manipulate them.

A real revolution would be a revolution of consciousness in society.

DA lays charges against Cosatu

Published in the 14th Edition of the Vuvuzela, page 3

By Lisa Golden and Jay Caboz


AFTER the violent clash between the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Cosatu in Braamfontein on Tuesday, the DA has laid an official charge of intimidation, inciting violence, and holding an illegal gathering against Cosatu at the Hillbrow police station.

Both sides have ­­accused each other of starting the violence by throwing rocks and stones after meeting on Jorissen Street. Several protesters and journalists were injured, including a Wits student, Dikeledi Selowa.

The march to  Cosatu House was to hand over a memorandum in support of youth wage subsidies, a proposal, that according to the DA would create 420 000 jobs for youths.

Cosatu had warned the DA against marching for the subsidy, as they directly oppose it and likened it to labour brokering which will encourage exploitation of workers.

Since the clash, a hailstorm of ‘he-said she-said’ comments flared across various media platforms.

DA leader Helen Zille took to Twitter to vehemently deny that DA supporters were involved in the violence, saying, “I was standing on a truck with a good 360 deg. view. I saw two rolled newspaper pages thrown by DA but no rocks or stones.”

DA leadership urged their supporters not retaliate to the Cosatu aggression, and started a chant of “We are peaceful”.

However, Star journalist Ihsaan Haffejee was quick to point out that he had taken photographs of marchers in DA shirts throwing rocks and other projectiles. Vuvuzela has similar photographs.

Patrick Craven, spokesperson for Cosatu said in a statement “COSATU, as it always does, condemns these acts of violence unreservedly, but stresses that the vast majority of its members conducted themselves with exemplary discipline and restraint, despite the provocative nature of the demands being made by the DA.”

DA Gauteng leader John Moodey accused the metro police at the march of bias. Supporters continually called out to the police to arrest Cosatu supporters who were “openly throwing rocks” in their direction.

One Cosatu supporter in an ANC Youth League t-shirt brandished a stun-gun and managed to stun some DA supporters. No attempt was made by the police to restrain or arrest him.

The police have come under further criticism, because of their initially weak presence and their inability to control the violence on both sides.

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DA Youth Wage Subsidy march turns violent

Witsie hit with a brick during DA march

Witsie hit with a brick during DA march

“The pain is a bit unbearable,” said Dikeledi Selowa, “I can’t chew using my right side.”

The second year fine art student was involved in the Democratic Alliance march on Tuesday. She was taking pictures with the journalists, when a brick struck the right side of her face.

“I fell onto the ground on impact. Next thing I was held up by two DA members, as they carried me away the journalists rushed in front of me and took pictures.”

Selowa did not see who threw the brick, but claims it came from the Cosatu marchers.

She was taken to hospital by a DA counsellor, along with another DA marcher who was also hit by a brick, which fractured her arm.

After the wounds above and below Selowa’s eye were stitched up, the counsellor took her home to Atteridgeville, Pretoria.

DA Youth Wage Subsidy march turns violent

A DA supporter is carried away by paramedics on Bertha Street Photo: Jan Bornman

Photographs and story by: Jan Willem Bornman, Lisa Golden and Jay Caboz

Protesters and journalists were tear-gassed by police after Democratic Alliance (DA) and Cosatu supporters clashed in Braamfontein today over proposed youth wage subsidies.

The march turned violent after blue-shirted members of the DA and red-shirted Cosatu supporters met on Jorissen Street. The Johannesburg Metro Police made a human chain to keep the two groups separated as they shouted insults at each other. This did not stop supporters from both sides throwing rocks, bottles, bricks and placards at each other across the police chain.

DA leaders were seen at the front of the march Photo: Lisa Golden

Fighting also broke out on Stiemens Street after police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. A 30-minute stand-off ensued while the DA leadership urged their supporters to maintain a non-violent stance, shouting “we want peace”, amid renditions of the national anthem.

DA members chanted "We are peaceful" when confrontations began Photo: Lisa Golden

One of the first protesters hit by a rock Photo: Jan Bornman

Rocks and bricks were hurled from both sides injuring protestors and journalists alike, among them Nickolaus Bauer from the Mail and Guardian, who was photographed with a bloodied face. A number of injuries have been reported in the media.

Journalist Nickolaus Bauer was injured in the clash Photo: Jan Bornman

DA national leader Helen Zille, parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, youth leader Makashule Gana and national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane led the march which was in support of the implementation of youth wage subsidies; a proposal rejected by Cosatu.

Competing lines of Cosatu and DA members, in red and blue respectively, are surrounded by media and police Photo: Lisa Golden

Mazibuko and Zille addressed the crowds calling for Cosatu to “join the DA” and saying “that they were stealing jobs from the youth.”

The two groups clashed repeatedly on several Braamfontein streets with the police, who appeared largely disorganised, responding with tear gas and water cannons.

Police used water cannons to disperse the crowds Photo: Jay Caboz


Windows of a BMW in Braamfontein were broken by protesters Photo: Jan Bornman


DA and Cosatu members arguing Photo: Jay Caboz

The police struggled to contain the situation as tensions increased Photo: Jay Caboz

A tear gas cansiter lies on the ground close to Cosatu members Photo: Jay Caboz

For more photographs go to Jay’s blog, Lisa’s blog and Jan’s blog


Strike action: Noise or power

The wave of recent strike action in the country has stretched over weeks and is accompanied by violence.

This year, strike action by workers began as early as mid-February when the South African Road Freight Workers downed tools in protest to get employers to meet the demands of their workers.

In July, members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) downed tools demanding a 13% wage increase and the banning of labour brokers.

They were soon followed by the members of the Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu), whose strike action disrupted fuel delivery to petrol stations leaving most Joburgers scrambling to fill their tanks.

This week, members of the National Union for Mineworkers (NUM) are on strike over wage increment disputes.

Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu) spokesperson, Patrick Craven says, “Strikes take place for very specific reasons and it’s coincidental that so many [negotiations] have reached that stage at the moment.”

“The strike action reflects the growing sense of frustration of people who feel marginalised, in what is now officially recognised as the most unequal society in the world.

“The people are getting impatient and want a reasonable share of the country’s wealth,” says Craven.

Professor Anthony Butler, head of political studies at Wits University, says, “The hike in strike action is based on people’s low standards of living and the fact that it’s hard to live on the wages that most Cosatu members earn, but it’s also partly political.

“The political aspect of the strikes can’t be ignored.”

Butler says the ANC now has more conflict between the different economic classes that exist within it and Cosatu now plays a part in that conflict. This has resulted in Cosatu using its industrial muscle to play the political game.

In the run-up to important conferences such as next year’s elective conference of the ANC in December, Butler expects we are likely to see a very high level of  strike action that is politically motivated.

“When people use industrial strike action and violence as a way of communicating their political demands, it’s usually because they are excluded and weak and not because they are strong.

“We shouldn’t confuse noise, violence and conflict with power,” says Butler.