Death threats won't deter Vavi

Cosatu's leader says leaving politics because of family pressure would be a disservice to his followers.

The Cosatu General Secretary says leaving politics would be a disservice to his followers. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Responding to reports on Thursday suggesting he would be leaving politics due to continuing death threats being made against him, Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says he's never thought of stepping down.

Despite his family putting pressure on him to leave both the union and the ANC, going so far as to call a meeting to persuade him, he says he cannot leave his post.

Vavi has been receiving death threats over a few years, including threats of poisoning and an orchestrated car-crash.

He says although his family is concerned about his future, it will be the worst disservice to the people he has inspired.

"Look, family is family, and they will not always appreciate why anyone should take such a risk and that's why they are constantly putting me under pressure to say, 'no, it's not worth it', and just walk away."

Two weeks ago, Vavi told Talk Radio 702 about the death threats in the midst of a case of political disloyalty and maladministration against him.

He said he was genuinely concerned there could be an attempt made on his life.

"I will always hold the view that those people who issued the death threats are still on a mission," he told John Robbie.

Recalling the details of one of the death threats, he said a letter was addressed to him in 2010 saying, "You are going to go the same way as Molefi Sefularo", who had been the Deputy Minister of Health.

Vavi said Sefularo's fatal accident in April 2010 was rumoured to have been engineered.

"I immediately took the matter up with the Minister of Police and then the Commissioner of Police, who took the note to a police laboratory and never got back to me," he said.

Vavi said he was also called into a meeting last year where he was advised of a plot to poison him.

"Immediately after the Cosatu congress last year I was called into a discussion with the acting head of crime and intelligence. He advised me that they'd come across a plot to poison me from the Iranian Intelligence Services. Someone from one of the NGOs which we normally work with had been hired."

He said people working closely with him were also rumoured to have been hired by the Iranians to poison him.

When asked what the motive would be for them to take out a union leader in South Africa, Vavi said he had no idea and it would be strange that anyone in Iran would want to have a go at him.

"I've been thinking and it doesn't make sense to me. I have nothing to do with Iranians. Cosatu and our country are in a good relationship with Iranians in the context of the imperialist activities in that country lead by the United States."