President Jacob Zuma. File photo: Gcina Ndwalane

Polokwane - The ongoing strike in the platinum mining sector was raised during a number of May Day speeches, including by President Jacob Zuma in Polokwane.

“Unions must be alive to the realities that endless strikes are not in the interest of the workers and not in the interest of the economy,” Zuma told thousands at Cosatu’s Workers’ Day rally yesterday.

Zuma said the business sector needed to respect workers’ rights and pay decent wages.

“I think we should all agree that the time has come for the situation on the mines to change.”

Earlier, the crowd at Peter Mokaba Stadium, a sea of yellow ANC T-shirts and red trade union shirts, chanted “Zuma, Zuma, Zuma” as the president walked a lap around the stadium.

An Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union-led strike at the country’s platinum mines, involving about 70 000 workers, has been going on for three months. The union is a rival to the ANC-affiliated National Union of Mineworkers.

In eMalahleni, Mpumalanga, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa told the crowd, wearing yellow National Council of Trade Unions T-shirts and green Amcu ones, that unions which were political bedfellows of the ANC would not help workers.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, the first speaker at the event, reiterated his support for the platinum miners’ strike action.

The strike was also mentioned at Cosatu’s rally in Rustenburg, North West. NUM deputy president Thamsanqa Matosa called on strikers to go back to work.

“This is not a labour dispute; it is a strike intended to destroy the economy of our country,” he said.

At the Polokwane rally, Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini stressed the union federation’s support for Zuma and the ANC.

At the same event, SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande lambasted opposition parties.

Referring to Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters, he said ANC voters should teach “tenderpreneurs who have stolen our colours” a lesson.

A tenderpreneur is a politician who seeks self-enrichment by trying to get government contracts.

SACP deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin called the EFF “loud-mouth demagogues”.

Speaking in Daveyton on the East Rand, he said the EFF had “never done an honest day’s work in their life, so where do they get their fancy cars, their fancy watches, their fancy shoes?”

In Mpumalanga, Malema called on supporters to teach the ANC a lesson by voting for his party.

In Kimberley, Northern Cape, DA leaders told their supporters they hoped to turn the province blue, the DA’s colour.

ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize told a rally in Khayelitsha the DA was “more of a PR company (that has) no substance”.

ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman told the crowd “we want to see the Western Cape in a state of transformation as the rest of South Africa under the ANC’s rule”.

Cape Argus & Sapa