The General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, ZwelinzimaVavi did not have a good day on Thursday. Though COSATU is yet to release an official statement confirming his suspension, it is pretty clear that Vavi will not be going to his COSATU office anytime soon. His updates to more than 100 000 followers on Twitter painted the picture of a man who was certainly not enjoying his day.
His first tweet on the popular social network was: “I committed an error & have profusely apologized to everyone hurt by my indiscretion. That was a right thing to do.” Vavi was referring to the apology he offered after he admitted to having a sexual relationship with a junior staff member. The female employee alleged that Zwelinzima Vavi forced himself on her but at the internal disciplinary hearing, she withdrew the allegations. Despite the withdrawal of the rape allegations, the wheels had already been set in motion for Vavi’s suspension. His already troubled political career did not help his case.
Later on Thursday morning, Vavi tweeted: “I am relieved so many have accepted that apology and recognize that some remain unforgiving. Know others are celebrating and rubbing salt.” Shortly after that, Vavi’s update read: “Thank you for the support – will say more later.”
Thurday morning is one Vavi would prefer to forget soon. Bright and early, Irvin Jim, the General Secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa said that Vavi had been suspended. He added: “NUMSA is feeling very bad about what has happened.”
Vavi’s next tweet was confirmation enough that he was indeed vacating his office. He said: “In my office – packing my essentials – clearing my desk – will speak tomorrow or Saturday.” It could not have been easy for the man who has been critical in the worker’s movement and vigorous in his activism for the welfare of the working force to leave his office in the shadow of a sex scandal.
The most recent tweet by Vavi’s Twitter account @Zwelinzima1 was characteristic of a man who has no desire to talk and prefers to be in a private space for now. “No interviews will be granted please – will do that when I want – not today.” It is not easy to tell if this tweet will keep the media away.