Lazola Ndamase
Lazola Ndamase

There will be more Vavis

Our revolution in order to succeed depends on Zwelinzima Vavi too much. Thus, if they target or kill him, they would have delayed this revolution for decades. By their nature, revolutions take time to build alternative and credible leaders. This is because revolutions depend on selflessness and loyalty, which are traits that take time to be recognised in individuals. Thus, by destroying a popular leader or leaders at a certain time, reactionaries could delay a revolution for decades as it tries to mould another generation.

For example ever since the brutal slaying of Chris Hani which delayed the working-class struggle it took time for the revolution to build another revolutionary as popular, radical and credible as Hani. It is a young Vavi that began to walk and talk in the same path as Hani. It is in Vavi that workers put their hopes and had almost as much love as they did for Hani.

Knowing that Hani is no longer alive and also knowing that some of his colleagues are rushing for plum government jobs, Vavi had no choice but to carry the aspirations of the working class almost single-handedly on his shoulders. On more than one occasion he has refused to get into the ANC NEC. He even went as far as refusing a ministerial position, instead choosing to remain in the modest position of Cosatu general secretary.

The unshaken radicalism of Cosatu and indeed that of Vavi has succeeded to ensure that South Africa does not turn into a banana republic where corruption is the order of the day and the poor and working class are ignored or left to be feeding ground for capitalist hyenas. Indeed, had it not been for the Vavi factor, our society would long have gone to the hangman’s noose, everybody knows that.

Clearly Vavi’s unshaken radicalism was not going to go unnoticed by those who want to continue stealing government resources and those who want to continue to profit out of the sweat of workers. Towards the end of last year they told themselves that they will not allow him to continue otherwise he will jeopardise their chances of getting all the honey. It is either they kill him in order to silence him or that they must make unfounded allegations about him in newspapers in order to diminish the strength of his voice.

It is in this context that Vavi has been besieged since last year by anonymous sources speaking about internal issues at Cosatu and accusing Vavi of all manner of things. But many of their allegations were not going to stick. When in February they said in newspapers, as anonymous sources, that he is corrupt, he said they must provide those newspapers with evidence and he would resign. It is five months now, not a single one of those newspaper sources have brought evidence.

True to form, ever since the attacks on Vavi started late last year, Cosatu has not been able to drive a single mass campaign. Rather than focus their energies on building and sustaining a strong mass movement, these anonymous sources have been busy fighting internal battles using problematic means, which include leaks to the media.

Destroying Vavi will not stop the fact that people are poor and that workers are paid a pittance under the nose of the ANC government, which thus far has not succeeded to defeat poverty and redistribute South Africa’s wealth. Rather than tackle this, some have sought to pretend this problem does not exist and want to kill all those who dare raise this fact. They need to know that it is not Vavi that is the problem but the problem is poverty, corruption and capitalism.

What we need is to ensure that the working-class movement creates not just one Vavi but creates many more Vavis. This is so that those who are hell-bent on destroying him know that by destroying Vavi they will not succeed to destroy the revolution. It is when we increase the level of radicalism and activity of the working class that political hyenas can realise that destroying Vavi will not achieve anything.

Is Vavi a saint? Certainly not, like all humans he is prone to commit adultery and other personal mistakes, but he has never betrayed the trust of workers. When workers elected Vavi, they knew very well he is a human being, they therefore were not trying to elect a priest. They expect him to stick by revolutionary morality, which includes selflessness rather than religious morality, which emphasises spiritual purity.

The working class must rise up and advance its demands, which include the banning of labour brokers, radical economic transformation, democratic control over the commanding heights of the economy, scrapping of e-tolling, a living wage, a better tax system, free education and socialism. It is through swamping the streets with mass protests that the ruling class will realise that it is not Vavi that is the problem but it is a system that is corrupt and exploitative that needs to be ended.

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