Vavi accepts ‘humiliating’ Corruption Watch censure

"I have accepted that censure, humiliating as that may be. I am not above the discipline of our organisations," he said in a speech on Friday.

Vavi was addressing members of the South African Democratic Teachers' Union during their regional biennial general meeting in Buffalo City, East London.

The censure came after Vavi admitted the impropriety of having a relationship with a woman employed by the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

He said he was determined not to allow the events of the recent past and the wrath it has invited from all angles, whether genuine or malicious, to sway his focus.

Vavi said he had to draw important lessons from the unfortunate experience.

Corruption Watch said in a statement earlier that Vavi would remain on their board.

"The board has met with Mr Vavi and after a consideration of the facts, and after Mr Vavi had recused himself as he did not wish to influence the deliberations, the board has unanimously agreed that Mr Vavi will remain on the board."

Last week, the woman withdrew her sexual harassment grievance against him during a hearing.

Standing against injustice
Vavi also called on the public to stand against all forms of injustice faced by women and girls.

"Patriarchy, gender-based violence, poor access to skills development and decent employment," he said.

Despite the many advances the country had made since 1994, women were still economically triply oppressed and exploited.

"They bear the brunt of the crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality, in a society in which white males still dominate the economy and women form the majority of those without jobs and living on the breadline," he said.

Vavi said women suffered from outrageous levels of gender-based violence, and claimed that a woman is murdered by her male partner every six hours. He estimated that at least 150 women are raped each day.

"We saw a grotesque example this week in Ceres, where a four-month-old baby girl was raped. It is hard to find words to describe such depravity," he said.

War on sexism
Vavi said as teachers, Sadtu members had a special responsibility to wage war on sexism and inculcate humane values and attitudes in future generations.

Vavi said as the country would be celebrating the end of the second decade of democracy, the economy of the country has not been radically transformed to benefit the majority of South Africans.

He said an aspect of the problem, which must concern the teachers, was that an estimated 72% of the unemployed are young people between 15 and 36 years of age.

"The stark reality is that most of the learners in your classes today, particularly in the poorer areas, have next-to-no chance of finding a job.

"Even the 5% minority who get access to higher education are not assured of employment," he said.

Earlier, Corruption Watch said it took into account the fact that any sexual relationship between a senior staff member and a junior member "is almost inevitably infected by the relationship of power that exists between them". It said senior staff members had a responsibility to avoid such relationships.

The organisation said it also took into account the "deplorable level" of gender violence and abuse in South Africa.

Assurances of safety
Political parties on Friday added their voice in calling on government to do more to protect women and children.

"The hosting of festivals and gatherings is important but more important is the assurance of the safety of not only women, but young girls as well," Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said.

"In this regard, the government of South Africa is failing women from all communities," Mulder said.

Mulder was speaking at a Women's Day event in Henneman in the Free State.

The United Democratic Movement Women's Organisation said even though there was more to celebrate in terms of achievements in improving the lives of women, more needed to be done.

"Women in black rural communities are still far from overcoming problems and obstacles to gender equality and sustainable empowerment," chairperson Kholofelo Mokgawa said in Cape Town.

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said issues such as rape, abuse, poverty and violence still clouded women's futures.

"As South Africa's women took a stand against injustice as they did in 1956, let us all rise, and stand united," he said at a Women's Day event in Bushbuckridge, Limpopo.

"This is the hope of our future," he added.

Gender-based violence
​The Gauteng provincial government called on men to lead the fight against gender-based violence.

Acting premier and provincial agriculture, social development minister Nandi Mayathula-Khoza said women still faced the scourge of violence and poverty.

"Sexual violence against women and rape remains a huge challenge in our society," she said in a statement.

"Poverty and poor living conditions have added to women's vulnerability to violence and increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections."

Economic Freedom Fighters spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said in a statement that 20 years into democracy the liberation of women was far from being realised.

"Representation in Parliament and other areas of society has not translated to benefit or upliftment of all women."

Gender-based violence was a direct result of colonialism and apartheid.

"In order for the revolution to triumph, it must liquidate the totality of the exploitative and oppressive system, it must liberate all the exploited and oppressed people, and thus it must liquidate women's exploitation and oppression," Ndlozi said. – Sapa

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