South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) secretary-general, Walter Theledi, says that Zwelinzima Vavi is innocent until proven guilty. Below is a statement he released earlier today (29 July 2013):
As the General Secretary of the largest union in the local government sector, and one which the media has targeted for comment on recent events involving the General Secretary of COSATU, I want to personally take this opportunity to clarify a number of issues.
Sexual harassment is a serious matter, and our policy on tackling and eradicating it is crystal clear. There is a grievance procedure in place to investigate and pronounce on this matter, and it must be allowed to take its course unhindered by external forces.
There is also the issue of the continuing Facilitated Process, which please note is not the same as a Commission of Inquiry, to deal with internal and political challenges that have arisen in the Federation and which is now drawing to a close.
The hysterical reaction of some media commentators to both of these processes is to be expected, despite the fact that as a democratic country the media is supposed to tell the truth, and in the case of the recent allegations, to uphold the principle of innocent until proven guilty.
Regrettably there are those who have clearly ‘leaked’ all manner of internal documentation to try and discredit Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi, and who have engaged in malicious rumour mongering for factional advantage. That they should want to gloat and exploit recent events is predictable if also highly regrettable.
It is hoped that despite attempts by some to factionalise and confuse these two processes, COSATU affiliates will not conflate them. We need political and organisational clarity in the Federation at this time if we are to address the challenges facing the working class and the poor.
Comrade Zwelinzima has been outspoken, as he must be as a leader of a militant trade union federation, but has not strayed from the policy of our Federation. He has been targeted because he has dared to speak truth to power, on unemployment, the absence of service delivery, on corruption, and many other issues, and in so doing has incurred the wrath of those with career ambitions and those waiting to enjoy the fruits of office by legal or other means.
SAMWU has committed itself to ensuring that the Facilitated Process is able to proceed unhindered by factional interests and to deliver on the mandate it was given. On the on-going grievance that has been lodged, we ask for fairness and due process to be observed.
As the General Secretary of SAMWU I am ready to accept that Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi is capable of making mistakes, after all we are all human. However I have no doubt in my own mind that Comrade Zwelinzima enjoys the support of vast numbers of union members, and of the general public because of what he stands for. Those who are jealous and fearful of his popularity, and who are attempting to discredit him must be made aware, that if they continue to act for faction advantage they themselves will be judged one day to have betrayed the people of this country.
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