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WORKERS’ DAY

Ramaphosa touts importance of Tripartite Alliance, while Cosatu ‘gives government six months’ to fix SA

Ramaphosa touts importance of Tripartite Alliance, while Cosatu ‘gives government six months’ to fix SA
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his address at Bethlehem Showgrounds in the Free State on Workers’ Day, 1 May 2023. (Photo: Twitter / @myanc)

President Cyril Ramaphosa says he believes a strengthened Tripartite Alliance is key to addressing workers’ grievances and the socioeconomic challenges that South Africa is grappling with.

President Cyril Ramaphosa joined Cosatu in its annual Workers’ Day celebration at Bethlehem Showgrounds in the Free State, where he received a cordial welcome — unlike Workers’ Day last year, when workers at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in North West booed him off the stage, refusing to listen to his address.  

“Workers’ Day is taking place today during a very difficult time for our country. We want to say that, yes, issues such as poverty, unemployment, inequality are challenges that can only be effectively addressed if we, as the alliance… continue holding hands to ensure that the ideals set out in the National Democratic Revolution are indeed achieved.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa (second left) at Bethlehem Showgrounds, Free State on Workers’ Day, 1 May 2023. (Photo: Twitter / @myanc)

“It is for this reason that we want a strong alliance. We need to sit down all together to discuss the alliance — how we can strengthen it, how we can reconfigure it so that this alliance continues to lead to the attainment of the National Democratic Revolution.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Cosatu says booing of Ramaphosa in North West was an expression of workers’ pent-up anger   

Meanwhile, his deputy Paul Mashatile faced a tough crowd in Saulsville, Pretoria, which broke into song minutes after he started speaking.

After calls for calm and discipline, Mashatile told the workers he understood their frustration.

“I have listened to your messages. It is very clear… workers are not happy and you want your leaders to hear you and understand your challenges.   All of us sitting here at the table, we were taking notes… to make sure that what you said today, even in your placards, will be addressed.”

Cosatu’s Gauteng chairperson, Amos Monyela, said the working class was under siege.

“We are waging war against our government, we are giving you six months to fix the state of our country. We are tired of being told lies, we want action today, not tomorrow. We are tired of seeing you on TV changing municipalities.”

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ANC supporters at Bethlehem Showgrounds in the Free State on Workers’ Day, 1 May 2023. (Photo: Twitter / @myanc)

Ramaphosa’s remarks on the reconfiguration of the Tripartite Alliance were echoed by the South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary, Solly Mapaila.

“Workers’ unity is the main weapon towards their victory. Therefore, we are committed to working with workers to strengthen the working class and unity across the board. We have made a call for the reconfiguration of the alliance in our country to maximise the importance of working-class power and the critical tool of using political power in our hands as a movement.”

Cosatu’s president, Zingiswa Losi, told workers that only a strengthened alliance could defy the odds when the country headed to the 2024 general elections.

“We must go to elections in 2024, our most difficult elections since 1994, united and determined to defend the many gains that workers have won since 1994. We must go to the elections committed to tackle the failures and setbacks, geared to accelerate the struggles to improve the lives of the poor and ready to deliver a resounding victory for the alliance,” she said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: New Cabinet gets thumbs up from Tripartite Alliance, while DA slams Ramaphosa’s ‘failure to show backbone’

A basic income grant, an increased basic minimum wage and resolving wage disputes so workers keep up with the rising cost of living were key issues that Losi said the federation was busy with.

“Those negotiations are continuing, and we are hopeful that at the level of government all members of Parliament… will find it upon themselves to ensure that they do agree with these minimum requirements that we are making as organised labour in South Africa…” DM

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