Baleni denies planting Vavi's rape accuser

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Addressing a press briefing on Monday following NUM’s national executive committee meeting at the weekend, Baleni said claims made on social media that he planted the woman accusing Vavi of rape, were untrue.

Baleni is associated with a powerful faction in Cosatu unhappy with Vavi's repeated criticism of government and the ANC.

"I don’t know this person [Vavi's accuser]. I never planted anyone. I never opened anyone's zip.  You can not stretch this theory on things that are unfounded," said Baleni.

Vavi announced on Monday afternoon that the rape complainant withdrew her grievance against him just two hours into the internal Cosatu process set up to investigate the matter.

"I am pleased that the grievance has been finalised. I hope that we all can put this saga behind us so that we all can concentrate on the real issues of the day – ensuring that we have a vibrant trade union federation that promotes South Africa, the interests of workers and the working class as a whole," said Vavi.

Vavi said he would not withdraw the charge of extortion.

"In light of the extreme damage that has been done to my reputation, I will consult with my lawyers to consider any further actions about this matter," he said.

To Vavi's defence
NUM deputy president Piet Matosa, who attended the press briefing following the union’s national executive committee meeting over the weekend, defended Baleni.

"As the NUM, we are not part of that and we will not be part of that [planting Vavi’s accuser] in future. We have been observing the attack against our general secretary [Baleni]. No leader of NUM will be part of this," said Matosa.

Asked whether he shared the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa’s (Numsa) views that the rape allegations against Vavi were politically motivated, Baleni said it would be premature to judge the matter before all internal processes by Cosatu were exhausted.

“We are not criticising anyone involved in a sex scandal. It would be premature to make judgments when you don’t have facts. We will wait for the internal process to complete,” said Baleni.

Baleni said there was no link between the sex scandal and the commission of inquiry investigating allegations of financial impropriety against Vavi.

Baleni said he did not know of any Cosatu policy regulating “who should sleep with whom”?

“All what I know is that we have a sexual harassment policy like any other company,” said Baleni

Numsa’s Wits central regional secretary Sizwe Dlamini said he was convinced Vavi’s detractors in Cosatu, were behind the sex scandal.

“We remain suspicious that the alleged rape claim is part of a dirty tactic intended to destroy comrade Vavi by his political opponents within Cosatu. The timing of this claim is worrying and it reinforces our long held view that a sinister campaign is being used to push-out comrade Vavi from his elected position for narrow political and selfish ends,” said Dlamini. 

ML

ML

Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003, focussing on politics and labour, and collaborated with the M&G's centre for investigations, amaBhungane, from time to time.In 2011, Matuma won the South African Journalist of the Year Award and was also the winner in the investigative journalism category in the same year.In 2004, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year prize – the MKO Abiola Print Journalism Award. Matuma was also a joint category winner of the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the year Award in 2008. In 2013, he was a finalist for Wits University's Taco Kuiper Award. Read more from ML

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