15 January 2014

South Africa: The Rise of the Elites and the Betrayal of the Workers - Vavi's Next Frontier?

Photo: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi (file photo).


After dangling in the wind for five months, Zwelinzima Vavi is officially on a terminal collision course with the leadership of Cosatu. Vavi received a charge sheet from the trade union federation on Tuesday, following his suspension in August for sexual misconduct.

Earlier on Tuesday, he delivered a speech that suggested he is finally seeing a role outside the ruling alliance.

He diagnosed a growing phenomenon in South Africa: the dominance of the political elites and the shunning of workers' interests. The time is coming for Vavi to make a decision - continue a fight he cannot win, or champion the movement he is himself defining.

The reign of the elites in South Africa was most obvious at the one place it should not have been: Nelson Mandela's funeral. The huge marquee constructed at Mandela's home village of Qunu for his funeral service was the preserve of the political and business elite as well as socialites on the ANC and government's VIP guest lists.

Some of Mandela's blood relatives and friends, as well as the people of Qunu, were not invited. Apart from the fact that they were not politically connected, they were told there was insufficient...

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