Cosatu marched through Durban on Workers’ Day yesterday. From left are SACP Second Deputy General Secretary Solly Mapaila, ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete and second deputy president of Cosatu Zingiswa Losi. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo
CHAOS erupted when parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete and acting premier Sihle Zikalala were introduced during a Cosatu May Day rally in Durban on Monday.

President Jacob Zuma was also booed and heckled by Cosatu members yesterday when he arrived at the main Workers’ Day rally in Bloemfontein, where he was meant to speak.

The rally collapsed as ­Cosatu decided to cancel his speech and those of other alliance leaders due to the anti-Zuma sentiment.

In Durban, hundreds of people participated in the march which started at King Dinu zulu Park and proceeded to Gugu Dlamini Park in the city centre.

A group of Inchanga residents booed Mbete when she took to the stage to address the crowd.

The atmosphere became tense, prompting programme director Beauty Zibula to also call former mayor James Nxumalo and Nomarashiya Caluza, SACP provincial treasurer, to the stage.

Nxumalo’s stern warning and a threat of disciplinary action against the instigators did little to stop the crowd from singing and blowing vuvuzelas when Mbete continued her speech. “We expected that there would be angry people when we got here,” she said.

“We need to remember that when there are differences, members need to sit down and talk issues out, like previous leaders such as Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela did in their time. If this is how we handle our differences, we will not win in 2019. We are aware of the Inchanga issues and the provincial leadership is handling the issues,” Mbete said.

The group continued singing and blowing vuvuzelas until Mbete left the podium.

They were protesting over the killing of their members in Inchanga and Glebelands.

A member, who did not want to be named, told the Daily News the provincial ANC government was not taking the murders seriously. “We have heard of task teams, but that’s it. We don’t know of a solid solution to this. All we see is the continued ­arrogance by the ruling ANC. Those ANC leaders on the stage do not represent us,” said the member.

There was a spate of killings in Inchanga ahead of the municipal elections last year.

Solly Mapaila, Cosatu’s Second Deputy General Secretary, said they were concerned by the killings.

“Just yesterday one of our members was killed somewhere in the province. The march in Bloemfontein collapsed. Let us not allow that to happen here in KZN. We maintain our position that President Zuma must step down. We don’t have a problem with the ANC. Our main problem is Jacob Zuma. We will deal with this one person who is destroying our alliance,” Mapaila said.

Zikalala praised Cosatu and said the ANC government was committed to working with the alliance partner to resolve issues affecting the workers.

However, Blade Nzimande, SACP leader, described the collapse of the Bloemfontein Workers’ Day rally as the final “wake-up call” for the tripartite alliance.

“I think it’s sad, it’s really sad. We should really see this as the ultimate wake-up call, because if we don’t arrest this, we will be judged very harshly as the ­generation of leaders who allowed the alliance to collapse,” said Nzimande. - Additional reporting by Africa News Agency