President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: @MYANC/Twitter

Durban – South African men should afford women the honour they deserved, which included zipping up their pants, president Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.

“Abuse of women mustn’t continue being the cancer that it is. I call upon men to offer respect to women of the country and offer them the honour they deserve. I call upon men to zip-up, to pull up our zips and stop raping and abusing women. We must do exactly the same with the children of our country,” said Ramaphosa.

He was speaking at a Workers’ Day rally hosted by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Claremont, just outside Durban. Ramaphosa gave the keynote address following a speech given by Cosatu general secretary Blade Nzimande.

He said members of the tripartite alliance were in a position to push for equal pay, equal training and promotions for women. “We will also work hard to end the harassment of women in the workplace, the home and communities,” said Ramaphosa.

Earlier, Ramaphosa had said it was only a strong and united ANC, Cosatu and South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) that could lead South Africa into the future.

He said that while some had indicated the union federation was dying out and were “writing on Cosatu’s tombstone”, the presence of supporters at the rally showed that it was “strong, alive and vibrant”.

“Only a united ANC, Cosatu and Sanco can lead and give people what they demand. Your presence here shows the strength of Cosatu.”

He said the governing party would strive “ceaselessly” for renewal of the organisation, and that this would be done in collaboration with the alliance and the working class. It was important, said Ramaphosa, to challenge all practices that promoted factionalism and division within the alliance.

“Will need to ensure promoting unity means we remain focused [and our unity] remains solid.”

Turning to unemployment,  Ramaphosa called it “the enemy” that only the alliance could “defeat”.

“We need to embark on programmes that accelerate growth and create employment but also transform the economy so it’s one where everyone can share in inclusive growth.

“Our lived experience tells us we must undertake fundamental transformation of our economy in circumstances that are not of our choosing. We have to shift the balances of forces at all time.”

There who were “stubbornly are against transformation”, including companies and institutions, should be part of the solution leading to the development of South Africa. “It is only through transformation of the economy that people can enjoy the bounties of the country,” said Ramaphosa.

He also scolded those who violated workers’ rights by paying "poverty wages".

“We want them to stop exploiting the working people of our country and we want – as we implement the minimum wage – that all companies must implement it without fail so workers can start moving away from poverty wages.”

He applauded Cosatu for its role in achieving a minimum wage, saying this was why Cosatu stood firm as the voice of the working people.  “Long may you continue to play that role.”

African News Agency/ANA)