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No formal rape charge against Vavi

Zwelinzima Vavi has admitted to having an affair but denies rape allegations.

Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has admitted to having a sexual relationship with a female colleague but has denied raping her. Picture:EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The family of the woman claiming she was raped by Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi say she has not yet laid a formal rape charge against him.

Vavi has strongly denied raping his female colleague, but has admitted to having an extramarital affair with her.

He believes the allegations are all part of a plot to discredit him or extort money from him.

Vavi claims the 26-year-old woman demanded R2 million from him in exchange for her silence. A case of extortion was opened against her on Thursday.

The woman's family say she only intends to lay the rape charge after receiving the outcome of the trade union federation's internal investigation.

She is sticking to her story, claiming she was raped by Vavi and that he used his powers both politically and physically.

She says she wants to give her side of the story as to why she decided not to go to the police first, following the incident which allegedly took place at the Cosatu offices in January.

She has vowed to speak to the media once she has learnt the outcome of the internal investigation.

The Cosatu leader has apologised to the public and to his wife for having an affair.

He tweeted on Saturday, "I am only human and fallible. I am no saint."

POLITICAL AGENDA

Over the past few months, Vavi has claimed on a number of occasions he is a victim of a political campaign to discredit him.

He believes it's being driven by President Jacob Zuma's supporters following the ANC's elective conference in Mangaung late in 2012.

He views the rape allegations in the same light as several other death threats he has been receiving as political assaults and efforts to tarnish his contribution to the struggle.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has thrown its support behind Vavi.

Numsa Kwazulu-Natal secretary Mbuso Ngubane says he believes the allegations are part of a political plot to destroy the Cosatu leader.

"The leaders who are behind this don't know that we know that this lady was persuaded to actually lay these charges against our general secretary. That's why we have been calling for a special national congress."

In the past, Vavi claimed he would step down if he is found guilty of wrongdoing by a legitimate structure.

The latest scandal might be enough to force him to step down. If Vavi does leave his post, the immediate question will be who will replace him.

It appears the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general secretary Frans Baleni would be a frontrunner.

However, his candidacy would probably be opposed by Numsa which is now Cosatu's biggest affiliate.

As a result, a compromised candidate could be elected which may weaken the federation in the longer term.

To read Vavi's statement, click here.

Annexture A-F of the press statement is available here.

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