Ricochet News

‘This is the last fight – a life or death struggle’ - Vavi

By Afikile Lugunya - May 2, 2018
‘This is the last fight – a life or death struggle’ - Vavi

“This is the last fight; this is a life or death struggle and we will not allow any of our people to be sacrificed,” those were the words of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) secretary general, Zwelinzima Vavi, at a May Day rally held on Tuesday in Port Elizabeth.

The SAFTU rally was held at the same time as that organised by the rival federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), and the African National Congress (ANC), which was addressed by ANC President, Cyril Ramaphosa.

The venue in KwaZakhele, PE, was packed full with SAFTU aligned workers. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also marched in the venue singing and chanting.

Speaking for the EFF, Lukhanye Mrara said that they decided to join the SAFTU May Day rally because they see that “this is home”.

When Vavi took to the podium, he said that SAFTU is ready to show it means business by occupying all bus depo’s on Thursday and shutting everything down during lunch time from 12:00 to 13:00.

Vavi advised all workers to support the one-hour shutdown and support bus drivers because their strike has reached almost three weeks with no way forward.

He described that the way things are going with the bus drivers’ strike as “dangerous”.

Vavi told the rally that Ramaphosa, who has been seen by many offering a new hope to South Africa after the disastrous presidency of his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, was the same “person who was responsible for killing people in Marikana”.

“We won’t allow normalisation of our struggle,” he added.

He also accused COSATU of selling out workers by aligning itself with the ANC.

“While many think that we are in a competition with COSATU, oh shame - there is nothing to compete with,” Vavi described.

He added that he had received a call begging him to join the COSATU-ANC May Day, but he refused.

Vavi said that in order for him to consider any requests from the ANC, it should, first of all, get itself out of the alliance with COSATU and continue to fight for the workers’ rights; ensure all workers are made permanent after three months and ensure equal remuneration for people, who are doing the same job.

“If the economy is going through hell, then everyone must go through hell,” he described.

“If Ramaphosa likes this R20, then he must feed it to his dogs or the Rhinos that he recently bought.

“Marikana workers were shot dead because of him while asking for only R12 500, why is it okay for him to continue living wealthy while the rest of the hard-working labour continues to struggle?”