158 ANC and Cosatu Secretary Generals, Gwede Mantashe and Zwelinzima Vavi. 060408. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Johannesburg -

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has attacked Zwelinzima Vavi, describing the suspended Cosatu general secretary as a “self-made, self-serving bogeyman”.

Mantashe said that contrary to Vavi’s belief that he was a victim of information peddlers, the embattled union boss was a victim of his own style and “self-importance”.

Speaking to The Star, Mantashe accused Vavi of lacking a sense of confidentiality.

Vavi has been in the news over speculation that he might join Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters and be the face of its election campaign.

ANC national executive committee member Tito Mboweni had suggested Vavi’s decision to reject nomination to represent the ANC in the National Assembly after the elections had something to do with his alleged talks with Malema. He challenged Vavi to come clean.

In a response on Twitter at the time, Vavi accused Mboweni of being an “information peddler”. Mantashe then entered the fray, accusing Vavi of ill-discipline.

On Friday, Mantashe said he was disappointed with Vavi’s political posture and his alleged tendency to go public about confidential and sensitive information.

“Comrade Vavi is much more knowledgeable about information peddlers than some of us. He is the one who has ostensibly taken to tweeting, where every discussion – however mundane or confidential – is tweeted.

“Simply put, one cannot have a confidential discussion with comrade Vavi because he tends to release it later.

“My conclusion is that comrade Vavi’s new style of going public even when he is genuinely engaged turns him into a self-made, self-serving, bogeyman,” said Mantashe.

“I have taken the painful decision to respond so that my comrade must not get away with murder.

“Comrade Vavi is nobody’s target but a victim of his own style and self-importance.”

Vavi’s spokesman, John Dludlu, declined to comment on Mantashe’s remarks.


While Malema reiterated that “we have never spoken to Vavi”, he said the EFF did not want to get involved. “Vavi is a member of the ANC. They must sort out their issues.”

Mantashe insisted that Vavi was the one who released a copy of the so-called “rogue intelligence report”, which sought to discredit the unionist, after he had allowed him to read it in his presence.

The report contained claims that Vavi was linked to a US organisation, the National Endowment for Democracy, which sought to topple President Jacob Zuma’s administration. It also linked him to Mamphela Ramphele’s party, AgangSA.

Mantashe said other proof that Vavi couldn’t be trusted was his “tweeting of sensitive discussions on e-tolling, at a sensitive stage, and in the process he destroyed the trust that had emerged between parties”.

Political analyst Professor Lesiba Teffo said Mantashe’s remarks showed that the gloves were off between him and Vavi, which militated against unity and cohesion within the tripartite alliance.

“Whatever they say will certainly have an impact. There are people who believe either of the two, and what is being said by either of the two, which means the positions taken will be hardened,” Teffo said.

He maintained that while Vavi might survive his political woes as an individual, he was unlikely to have a future within the alliance.

He believed that the embattled union boss had to “find a way to reinvent himself” if he still wanted to speak for the poor on social justice and against corruption. His options included joining an existing party or joining civil society without necessarily being a leader himself, Teffo added.

Twitter spat ignited war of words

The spat between Zwelinzima Vavi and Gwede Mantashe was sparked by a Twitter war between Vavi and ANC NEC member Tito Mboweni

January 8: Mboweni asks Vavi via Twitter if he had declined nomination to become an ANC MP because he was in talks with the EFF.

“@Zwelinzima1 You wrote about why you decline nomination for Parly. Is that the truth? Or is it because of EFF/Numsa coalition leadership?” Mboweni asked Vavi on Twitter.

“@Zwelinzima1 It is public knowledge that negotiations are on between Numsa and EFF about whether you or Juju should lead EFF to elections?”

In response, Vavi labels Mboweni an information peddler.

“Who else have heard this ‘public knowledge’ except some day-dreamer with a paranoid mindset? Ndiqhelwa kakubi ngoku.”

“Some never check validity of any info they receive from info peddlers – they just act or adopt an attitude. An information peddler sent SMS to SG (Gwede Mantashe) claiming that I & Ntola (Sadtu president Thobile Ntola) were meeting EFF at Clifford Motsepe house in Polokwane whilst I was in JHB.

January 9: Mantashe tells Vavi to come clean on his political future.

He says Vavi’s spat with Mboweni is a sign of ill-discipline.

EFF leader Julius Malema denies meeting Vavi and Numsa, but says he intends meeting the latter because they share ideological perspectives.

January 15: Mantashe describes Vavi as a self-made, self-serving, bogeyman with an exaggerated sense of self-importance.

He suggests Vavi is himself an information peddler who lacks a sense of confidentiality.

January 16: Malema again denies meeting Vavi, saying he does not want to get involved in ANC issues.

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