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Rape accusation withdrawn against S.Africa union boss

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Zwelinzima Vavi gives a news conference in Johanessburg on May 29. South Africa's top trade union boss said a female subordinate had dropped rape allegations against him Monday, after a brief internal inquiry. (AFP/File)

South Africa's top trade union boss said a female subordinate had dropped rape allegations against him Monday, after a brief internal inquiry.

Zwelinzima Vavi -- one of South Africa's leading politicians -- said the explosive accusations, which had rocked the country's political scene, had been withdrawn.

"After about two hours, the grievant withdrew the grievance. I am pleased that the grievance has been finalised," Vavi said in a statement.

A union employee had claimed he had forced himself on her in her office at its Johannesburg headquarters on January 25.

Zavi, who is married, said the sex was consensual and claimed she had tried to blackmail him into paying two million rand ($204,000, 154,000 euros).

Vavi on Monday vowed to press ahead with charges of extortion and hinted that a defamation suit may follow.

"In the light of the extreme damage that has been done to my reputation, I will consult with my lawyers to consider any further actions about this matter."

Vavi has also claimed the allegations were part of a plot to bring his political downfall.

He has come under fire for his criticism of President Jacob Zuma, despite Cosatu's government alliance with the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

A vocal critic of state corruption, he has thus far successfully rebutted graft allegations himself.

After the rape allegations became public on Saturday, Vavi distributed to media a copy of their correspondence and his internal reply to her complaint.

Text messages between the two seem to back his claim of an affair from October last year.

She laid the complaint against him in July and did not open a case with the police.

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