Opinion: All flock together now

Opinion: All flock together now

You remember how, before His Excellency Dr Jacob Zuma (honoris causa) became president of the ANC, before he chased away the president of South Africa and then himself became supreme commander of all he beheld, he faced a charge of rape? Of course you do.

Personally I didn’t believe he was guilty; it was so obviously a set-up, a honey trap, and he was stupid to fall for it. But, as we know, our fearless leader is a warrior not a worrier. Up the assegai! Umshini Wam! So he did the whole unprotected sex thing with his daughter’s friend and later more or less the same thing with his friend’s daughter, so there is something of a pattern here.

But rape, no I did not think it was rape and neither did the High Court. Not that he came out of the tub all squeaky clean as if washed blacker than black by Ouma Otto (or words to that effect, Your Honour.) On the contrary, his own words under oath, describing his own actions on that steamy night, condemned him — not to any form of penal punishment of course, but to becoming the butt of a thousand jokes here and everywhere.

For one, he did not come out of the tub; he came out of a hot shower … Hmmm. Let me try that again. He did not exit from a tub; he exited from a hot shower, whence he went for some preventative medical treatment against infection with the HI-Virus. His alleged victim, who stayed for breakfast, having been positive with said virus.

So, from that day onwards, Zapiro has been drawing cartoons of Zuma with a showerhead growing from his skull, shower jokes have replaced Van der Merwe jokes in the less sophisticated establishments and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are singing rude songs about EFFing showerheads.

And by contrast, every other boss or former boss in the ANC’s Tripartite Alliance has become a role model for moral rearmament. Zwelinzima Vavi was quite outspoken on the subject. And even Freedom Fighter Number One, unmarried father Julias Malema, is preaching to his own congregation to keep their zippers up.

But the joke runs on.

And, no surprise, it happened again. This time it was Vavi himself — the scourge of corruption — who acted true to ANC tradition, abused a position of trust and screwed up.

This is what he had to say about corruption in the so-called civil service on 10 May this year (to be fair to the old Comrade, he did also say the Capitalists had started it all):

“The ideals of our revolutionary movement — of selflessness and serving the community, without thought of personal gain — are being eroded by the demon of greed and personal enrichment (as well as) by a new demon we call ‘tenderpreneurs’, who scavenge off the public service to expand their businesses, and in the worst case, murder any who get in their way.”

Talking truth to power: Viva Vavi!

And then came the rape charge — countered by charges of blackmail. At the time of writing, the first seems to have been withdrawn and the second may never see the inside of a court of law. So I do not wish to criticise Comrade Vavi on the basis of allegations and unproven claims. On the contrary, we are going to give him the Zuma treatment and concern ourselves only with Vavi’s own words, describing his own actions on that steamy day in a locked office with a junior employee.

That day was 25 January this year. Vavi, himself married, was later accused of raping a married female employee of Cosatu. In his response to a formal grievance complaint of sexual harassment in the workplace, Vavi’s defence included the following statements:

“Since about October November (sic) 2012, complainant and I became attracted to each other.  A spontaneous relationship developed between the two of us, and prior to 25 January 2013, the relationship consisted only of kissing and hugging each other  …”

“I categorically and emphatically deny that on 25 January 2013 I went to complainant’s office, ‘grabbed’ and kissed her, forcefully fondled her private parts and raped her. The truth is that on that day she came to my office at least three times for reasons related to work. We had intimately kissed in my office on each of those occasions.  Round about midday in her office I also kissed her and that kissing eventually led to us making love. I did lock her office door but only to ensure that no one else could come in. Brief intercourse took place whilst we were standing. At no stage did she ask me to stop.  After that I asked her affectionately if she was okay, and when she assured me that she was okay I left the office.”

“Later that day I received a shocking text message from her saying ‘that was not consensual…’ It was followed by another one stating, ‘Now I am starting to feel that you hired me, merely based on my looks, I’m not ok. But I’ll be fine.  I am sorry if I gave you ideas…’  I responded to these by just stating that ‘You are so wrong.’  Her response to this was simply: ‘I’m worried, please tell me I don’t have a reason to, then I’ll let it go…’  Her worry related to the issue of HIV.”

“I called her and assured her that she had no reason to worry about HIV infection from me, as I had been taking regular tests. We agreed that she should go for a test the coming week. We proceeded to exchange 61 text messages that day, talking about work and joking and laughing about other matters such as her children and wishing each other good night at the end of the day …”

“Once I gave her the assurance that she will (sic) be fine with regard to HIV she proceeded to interact with me as she had done before.  Since 25 January 2013 we have had over 370 text message exchanges that indicate a very normal relationship throughout.  Not one of those text messages shows a grain of anger towards me …”

“A week or so after 25 January 2013 complainant came to my office to ask me whether during the encounter on 25 January 2013, I did not hear her saying ‘NO.’ I told her that if she had uttered those words I would definitely not have proceeded.  She further asked me whether I did not notice that she was not very happy at the end and whether I was not worried that she might have been HIV positive on 25 January.  I told her that she had been worried about not having thought of HIV before the sex, to which she did not reply …”

So what are the facts according to St Vavi: He had a relationship with an employee of Cosatu, of which he is the general secretary. There was a lot of hugging and kissing, often “intimately” so. On 25 January one thing led into another — “to us making love”. He locked the door before “intercourse took place.” This happened while he was standing, in a manner of speaking. She was too, to be fair. Afterwards he spoke to her “affectionately.” But she, afterwards, was worried about HIV. So the sex was unprotected. He continued to exchange text messages with this subordinate, up to 61 a day, as part of their “very normal relationship.”

Very normal indeed, in the warped world of the tri-partite alliance. An upstanding citizen, our Comrade Vavi. Just like our president. Birds of a feather …

By Pieter Schoombee

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