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Zwelinzima Vavi answers deeply personal questions about money

Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: EWN

Look at what we wear! Look at our houses! Look at our last holidays! Look at the schools to which we’re taking our kids! Look at the cars we drive! Look at the labels of the clothes we wear! I hate that!

Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Federation of Trade Unions

My first salary at the NUM was R300, signed by absolute hero of mine, at the time, Cyril Ramaphosa… some people that were heroes yesterday are not heroes today… It [Marikana] is a blot in his career in my eyes, forever.

Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Federation of Trade Unions

I hate inequality! I hate living in a country with so much wealth yet so many people are trapped living paupers’ lives… but I’m a realist. I know you can’t defeat capitalism in South Africa… you can’t live in a utopian dream… We have to engage with the system of capitalism…

Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Federation of Trade Unions

Every week The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews a famous person about her or his attitude to money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.) as part of his “Make Money Mondays, Personal Edition” feature.

This week Whitfield interviewed legendary trade unionist Zwelinzima Vavi.

Vavi is the General Secretary of the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) and the former General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).

The 55-year-old Vavi was born one of five sons and seven sisters, on a farm in Hanover in the Northern Cape.

His father was a mineworker.

In 1987 Vavi worked as a uranium plant clerk at Vaal Reefs mine and joined the National Union of Mineworkers.

Later he was fired from AngloGold following a crippling miners' strike; he then joined Cosatu as a volunteer and became General Secretary in 1999.

In 2015 Cosatu voted to expel Vavi.

  • What does Vavi believe about money?

  • Does it keep him up at night?

  • Does he spend like crazy or save compulsively?

  • How did his childhood experiences shape his views on money?

Listen to the interview in the audio below (and scroll down for more quotes from it).

Not a great day for me… my sister has been rushed to hospital… with a problem with her heart following the death of her husband… she has never been the same after that…

Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Federation of Trade Unions

Life was absolutely tough… My name is linked to the Sharpeville massacre…

Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Federation of Trade Unions

You would not believe what farmworkers go through 24 years into democracy… For workers in urban areas, it means more land close to opportunities to work… The discussion sometimes obscures the different realities…

Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Federation of Trade Unions

Who is going to expropriate? Advancing which class interest? Who is going to be beneficiaries? We don’t want a repeat of the mistakes we have seen… a hullabaloo about expropriation, and then it ends up in a BEE tycoon’s hands… this is a very important class issue…

Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Federation of Trade Unions

Money is important to everybody… nobody wants to be trapped [in poverty]…

Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Federation of Trade Unions

I’ve always understood that even the middle strata must be conscientised that South African can never be free until we uplift the 55% of South Africans who live in poverty…

Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Federation of Trade Unions

Animals will never betray you, but humans do that all the time!

Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Federation of Trade Unions

I’m number 10 of 12 living [siblings]… Up to today, I struggle to eat alone!

Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Federation of Trade Unions

I do [invest]… I’m doing the best I can so that if something happens to me tonight… there is something that will save me from a pauper’s life.

Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Federation of Trade Unions

I’ve put my retirement fund with the investment institutions…

Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Federation of Trade Unions

I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I consider that money wasted…

Zwelinzima Vavi, SA Federation of Trade Unions

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