Vavi haunted by his support for Jacob Zuma

Zwelinzima Vavi, a veteran trade union leader, has had his fair share of setbacks throughout his career.

However, he openly admits that the biggest mistake he ever made was supporting Jacob Zuma to become president of the ANC and the republic.

In a recent interview, Vavi reflected on the decision that he now regrets deeply.

Vavi recalls the circumstances that led to his support for Zuma back in 2005 when then-president Thabo Mbeki fired Zuma, his deputy, due to implications in his friend Schabir Shaik’s corruption case.

Vavi, along with his comrades at the old Cosatu House in Braamfontein, rallied support for Zuma, believing that he would advance the agenda of the working class.

This decision ultimately paved the way for Zuma’s return to politics and his eventual rise to the presidency.

Now, almost two decades later, Vavi finds himself out of the ANC-led alliance and serving as the general secretary of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), a rival organization to Cosatu.

Reflecting on his past support for Zuma, Vavi acknowledges that it was a mistake driven by a collective decision that he threw his full support behind.

Vavi admits that they acted in an unprincipled manner by declaring a non-socialist as the biggest socialist and overlooking previous allegations of corruption against Zuma.

He explains that they were focused on driving the ANC’s programs towards the left and aligning with the principles of the Freedom Charter, but in doing so, they made a fundamental mistake that he now deeply regrets.

  “The difference between myself and everybody is that once the collective decides that this is the way, I throw my weight, my soul and everything behind decisions of the unions, behind Zuma.
“In the process, unfortunately, we acted in a manner that is unprincipled by declaring a non-socialist as the biggest socialist. By also closing our eyes to previous allegations that ‘our hero’ had taken a R500,000 bribe from a company that was selling arms to South Africa,” he said.

Despite his regrets, Vavi has since apologized to Thabo Mbeki for buying into conspiracy theories and acknowledges the tragic mistake they made in 2005.

He acknowledges the implications of their actions and reflects on the consequences of supporting Zuma, who is now no longer part of the ANC and has formed his own political party.

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