People of Jozi unite against Xenophobia

WE ARE AFRICANS:The Human Rights Commission at the People's March in Pieter Roos Park. Photo: Zimasa Mpemnyama

WE ARE AFRICANS: The Human Rights Commission at the People’s March in Pieter Roos Park. Photo: Zimasa Mpemnyama

Thousands of people embraced unity by joining the People’s March to denounce and confront xenophobia yesterday.

Marchers started at Pieter Roos Park in Parktown, moved through parts of the Johannesburg CBD and ended at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown.

On the way people were singing liberation songs and carrying placards with slogans such as “South Africa belongs to all who live in it”, “I found home”, “Fight Xenophobia, fight racism”.

Zwelinzima Vavi said it was important that people were sending out the message that poverty and unemployment are the enemies, not foreign nationals; “This means victory against xenophobia, uniting our people against their real enemy [unemployment] which is not caused by our brothers and sisters [foreign nationals].”

African Diaspora Forum Vice Chairperson Jean-Pierre Lukamba said the purpose of the march was to send a message to Africans and the world that not all South Africans are xenophobic; “Right now in Africa many people think South Africans are xenophobic, we are sending a message to the continent that not all are xenophobic and to set an example to perpetrators that they should stop what they are doing.”

In Johannesburg CBD, foreign nationals who did not participate in the march were standing on road pavements, waving and chanting with the marchers, “We want peace!”

Max Sisulu remembered how other African countries supported South Africa during the struggle,   “Africans who are staying in our country deserve our support; we were in their countries during the struggle, they gave us home and all the support we needed.”

The march was organised by a coalition of African Diaspora Forum, Gauteng Office of the Premier, City of Johannesburg and major social movements such as Treatment Action Campaign, Equal Education, as well as organisations such as Section 27, Corruption Watch and Doctors Without Boarders.

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.


Related articles

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.