Port Elizabeth -  The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is celebrating its main Workers' Day rally in Nelson Mandela Bay, and is expecting a far different atmosphere than the one a year ago which saw former President Jacob Zuma heckled and the event in the Free State eventually called off.

The 2018 May Day rally wil take place at the Isaac Wolfson Stadium in Kwanobuhle and is set to be addressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The event has been talked up as a "building block" for the 2019 general elections. 

Last year's May Day celebrations in Bloemfontein was cancelled amid scuffles between pro and anti-Jacob Zuma groups but Cosatu believes that this year's event will go smoothly and that Ramaphosa will be well received in the Eastern Cape. 

At a press conference last month, Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said the last May Day rally was held in the Eastern Cape 10 years ago, adding that it was a deliberate choice as a first building block towards the 2019 general elections.  

"The choice of Nelson Mandela Bay was deliberate to liberate our people from the exploitative and suppression of the workers and communities from the chains of (Mayor Athol) Trollip and the DA (Democratic Alliance)," he said. 

The celebrations was set to kick off at Njoli Square in Kwazakhele, before moving to the Kwazakhele police station and then finally to the stadium where workers will be addressed. 

"We encourage ANC members to come to the rally," she added. "Many of our members are part of the working class and this is a celebration of the gains of the working class." 

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has announced that it will be holding May Day rallies across the country starting at 10am. 

The union federation said its main rally will be held in Bloemfontein at the Vista Arena, University of the Free State. SAFTU President Mac Chavalala will address the rally.

In Durban, SAFTU members will assemble at Botha’s Place and march to the City Hall, where SAFTU 1st Deputy President Nomvume Ralarala will address them.

SAFTU National Treasurer Motswari Letshogo will address union members at the Ngoako Sports centre in Seshego.

African News Agency/ANA