If you’re familiar with even just a bit of South African politics, then you must be familiar with the name Zwelinzima Vavi.
Zwelinzima Vavi was a recurrent name in South African News headlines during his time as General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions.
He also served as the Vice Chairperson of the Millennium Labor Council.
His career over the years serves as an example of just how far an individual can get with hard work and persistence.
Zwelinzima Vavi started as a Clerk at Uranium Plant under the Ministry of Mining, Energy and Natural Resources from 1984 to 1987.
He also served as a Shop Steward at Vaal Reefs South Mine (Ministry of Mining, Energy and Natural Resources) from 1984 to 1987.
Zwelinzima later became the Branch Secretary at Vaal Reefs South Mine’s National Union of Mineworkers (Ministry of Mining, Energy and Natural Resources) from 1985 to 1987.
He was later appointed as an Executive Committee Member of Vaal Reefs South Mine’s National Union of Mineworkers (Ministry of Mining, Energy and Natural Resources) from 1985 to 1987.
During this period Zwelinzima Vavi was then appointed as Executive Committee Member for Congress of South African Trade Unions (Ministry of Government, Public Administration and Defence) as well from 1986 – 1987 for the Western Transvaal Region
He also served as the Personnel Clerk for Vaal Reefs Gold Mine (Ministry of Mining, Energy and Natural Resources) during this period.
He later became an Organiser at the Klerksdorp Region of National Union of Mineworkers from 1987 to 1988.
In 1988, he became the Regional Secretary for Congress of South African Trade Unions (Ministry of Government, Public Administration and Defence) till 1992.
From 1990 to 1992, he was appointed as the Interim Chair of Congress of South African Trade Unions
He became the Deputy General-Secretary for South Africa’s Congress of South African Trade Unions in 1993. He held this position till 1999.
It was in 1999 he became the General-Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions
South Africa till 2015. He became the subject of many headlines and many news stories during this period.
In 2010, he served as the Director of 19th FIFA World cup that was held in South Africa.
Zwelinzima Vavi was born on the 20th of December in 1962, which puts his current age at 53.
He was born on a farm in Hanover in Northern Cape. He had four brothers and seven sisters.
His father was a mine worker.
Zwelinzima did not know his date of birth until his baptism.
He worked as a child laborer during his early years, finding work in the farms around the community and neighborhood.
It was in 1987 when he began work as a Plant Clerk that his career as trade union organizer and activist began (as detailed above).
He began his career with COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) as a volunteer.
After years of climbing the professional ladder with the Congress of South Africa Unions, Vavi played a principal role in the four month long negotiation prior to the Jobs Summit of 1997.
He also worked on the International Labour Organisation’s commission set up to handle issues relating to globalization.
Zwelinzima Vavi took over the position as Secretary General of the Congress of South African Trade Union from Mbhazima Shilowa.
Prior to serving as the Secretary General of COSATU, Mbhazima Shilowa was once the Premier of Gauteng as well as one of the leaders of the Congress of South African People – a political party formed by former members of the African National Congress.
In 2002, Zwelinzima Vavi addressed the International AIDS Conference where he presented his plans for mass education campaigns and prevention campaigns in relations to AIDS.
During his time in COSATU, Zwelinzima was also noted for being very vocal against the ruling party – African National Congress.
Zwelinzima was also a vocal critic of the expulsion of the National Union Of Metalworkers of South Africa – NIMUSA from COSATU.
This vocal opposition was one the reasons behind his expulsion from COSATU.
COSATU’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) held a vote on the matter on the 30th of March 2015.
The result came in 31-1 in favor of expelling Zwelinzima Vavi from COSATU.