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Our aim is to teach government a lesson- COSATU calls for Shutdown support

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by Tauhierah Salie

The National Economic Development and Labour Council or NEDLAC has confirmed that COSATU in the Western Cape has been given the green light to embark on legal strike action on Thursday, 4th August. Tensions are peaking as South Africans face record fuel and food costs, high unemployment and crime rates, and an ongoing energy crisis.

Speaking to VOC, provincial spokesperson Malvern de Bruyn said Cape Town has been plagued by violent crime and its subsequent socio-economic consequences for far too long. He said the demand is for government to take their concerns seriously- and urgently intervene. Their prime concern: crime.

“They applied initially in 2018 to go on a socio-economic protest on this issue and numerous meetings were held to attempt to resolve the matter with provincial and local stakeholders.  Unfortunately, the issues were not resolved and thus they were issued with a certificate in terms of Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act,” Nedlac said in response to VOC.

According to de Bruyn, engagement with various spheres of government has been fruitless for almost four years, emphasizing that the demonstration is last resort. He says the working class and most vulnerable are “under attack” and officials have simply not come to the party.

“Police, with the City are not doing enough to protect us. We can talk and talk but if they don’t want to listen; it means that the only tool we have is to go out onto the streets and express our disappointment and our anger in what’s currently happening. One death is one death too many.”

COSATU met with SAPS, Disaster Risk Management, City of Cape Town police and traffic services this week to outline their plans.

Economic upheaval

Citizens have been forced to crunch the numbers at home and at work. The South African Reserve Bank on Thursday confirmed an increase in the repo rate of 75 basis points, pushing the primary lending rate up by nine-percent.

The heightened economic tensions have peaked concerns in nearly every sector. This includes the taxi industry, where associations have similarly cited governments lack of response to their concerns.

The National Taxi Alliance this week sounded calls for a national shutdown, after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula allegedly failed to respond to a list of demands delivered nearly a month ago. On Tuesday, SANTACO in the Western Cape distanced itself from the escalation. Both groups however admitted that the spike in fuel costs has crippled the sector, and left workers battling to make ends meet.

De Bruyn said that the rise in petrol, and its ripple effort on the cost of living, has pushed community members further into poverty. Citing the resignation of an employee who could no longer afford to travel to work, he described the situation as “chaos”.

Cosatu has since extended the invitation to the disgruntled taxi associations to join them next month. De Bruyn said that the union will be reaching out to South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) and other federations.

“The strike is open to every worker – and unemployed- in this province (Western Cape) to go out in our numbers. Our aim is to teach government a lesson. We will bring the City to a stand-still on the 4th of August. We appeal to each and every community member- lets show our frustration in our how they deal with crime in our province.”

Risk of violence

Residents have meanwhile had mixed reactions to news of a potential “Shutdown”. While some readily support the move to desperately attain government’s attention and intercession, others are weary that violence may break out, people injured or property damaged, as seen in previous demonstrations across the country.

De Bruyn admitted that while the strike is risky, the federation has run out of options:

“Nobody can afford this strike. And unfortunately, we are an alliance partner with the ANC government, but ultimately, we are an autonomous body. It doesn’t mean that we are alliance partners that we cannot take government on, no. if you fail us, we will deal with you.”

He adds that a memorandum of demands will be handed over, and government given 14 days to respond.

Officials cited include: Speaker of National Assembly Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Police Bheki Cele, Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, Western Cape MEC for Community Safety Reagan Allen, Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill Lewis and the City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security directorate spokesperson JP Smith.

“It doesn’t mean 14 days just to respond. Respond with positive action to curb the violence. I know it won’t be an overnight thing but at least they have ample time, to come to the party. We’ve met more than seven times through Nedlac and there was no political will from (any) of them,” insisted de Bruyn.

“It means that we can talk until we turn blue. But if the other parties do not want to listen, then we are basically forced to go out. Currently, it’s our only tool.”

De Bruyn said that on Thursday, August 4th 2022;

Members will gather at Hanover street from 8 am

Marching will commence at 9.30 am

Three stops include:

The City of Cape Town offices on Hertzog Boulevard down Tennant street

Turning back down to the Provincial Parliament via Darling Street

and thereafter to National Parliament up Plein street

Listen to the full audio here.


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