File photo: Jackets and jerseys were stripped off as the clouds disappeared and the sun beat down on the field. Picture: Henk Kruger

Cape Town - Uniting workers and learning about politics were some of the reasons given for attending Cosatu's May Day rally in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, on Thursday.

Around 1000 people in African National Congress and Congress of SA Trade Unions' shirts clapped and danced to the music on stage, as they waited for the speeches to start.

Jackets and jerseys were stripped off as the clouds disappeared and the sun beat down on the field.

Barry Rubushe, 46, decked out in ANC colours and comfortably seated in a camping chair, said the primary goal of celebrating Workers' Day was to avoid exploitation by employers.

“When workers are united, then we can defeat what the employer does to us. Some of us are victimised or not allowed to join unions.”

He was proud to say he would be putting a mark next to the ANC on the ballot paper in next week's election.

“The only party that has an ear for the workers is the ANC. Where we engage with them, they listen to us. Even when we don't agree with them, we sit down and come to an amicable solution.”

Rubushe said this was unlike during apartheid, in which the ruling party jailed, killed, and tortured those who disagreed.

He expressed support for ANC leader and President Jacob Zuma.

“Zuma is a leader who has a listening skill, goes to where there are problems and tries to solve them.”

SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union' shop steward Zukiswa Tebekweana, 45, hoped to hear some feedback on banning labour brokers, because she believed they took jobs from the deserving.

She said she would vote for the ANC to get rid of corruption, portable toilets and poor transport infrastructure in Western Cape townships.

“I want them to stop all of the racism here in the Western Cape.”

Around 30 Dutch working professionals and students were bused into the stadium and pulled yellow ANC shirts over their outfits.

Amsterdam resident Daphine Mulder, 25, said they arrived in Cape Town on Thursday morning as part of a tour to learn about the elections.

“We've covered the European elections, the German elections and so this is totally different. There are many layers, troubles and problems here, so it's really hard to get some understanding.”

Her friend, 25-year-old Nikki Dekker, said they had driven past shacks and harsh living conditions, only to be surprised by a well-organised rally.

“It's more like a Western music festival. It looks like a cultural day out, more than a political rally. But I don't understand what they're singing, so it might be political,” Dekker said.

She said she hoped to be able to learn more about the local culture and where the country was going.

“The situation now seems to be at a tipping point. It's very interesting to be here.”

A sizeable number of police and marshals lined the field.

An announcement was made on stage to applaud the presence of news channel ANN7. The channel is owned by the Gupta family, who have reported ties with Zuma.

Shop stewards would be canvassing for votes around the stadium. - Sapa