Pretoria - The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) has given the EFF a thumbs up for the protest action which broke up the City of Tshwane budget speech yesterday.
The EFF members blocked all entry points to Tshwane House to voice its displeasure with the failure of the metro to insource cleaners and security guards. The EFF also wants the City to give workers salary increases due to them since last year.
Samwu regional chairperson Nkhetheni Muthavhi said: “First of all we want to make it clear that we associate with the decision of the EFF to protest at Tshwane House and also in council because that is where the decisions which hamper the lives of the working-class workers are made.
“What we do not associate with is violence because we saw a circulating video whereby it looked like the speaker (Dr Murunwa Makwarela) was being manhandled.”
Outside the municipal headquarters, frustrations continued to mount throughout the day with councillors, City of Tshwane staff and the media unable to make their way into the building. Traffic was also gridlocked on Madiba and Johannes Ramokhoase streets where the EFF members demonstrated. Metro police had to use stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd from the main entrance on Madiba Street.
This allowed staff and councillors a chance to get into the House, where MMC for Finance Peter Sutton was scheduled to deliver the budget speech. Some protesters sustained injuries and received medical attention at the scene while demonstrations continued.
ANC councillor Enos Chiloane clashed with his EFF counterparts before making his way into the chambers. He had fought his way through the protesters to enter Tshwane House.
EFF leader Obakeng Ramabodu calmed him down and took him away to avoid an escalation of the confrontation. MMC for Community Safety Grandi Theunissen also had a confrontation with EFF councillors after he had instructed them to allow for the gates to be opened.
EFF councillors remove the speech from the hands of the speaker ahead of a now delayed budget speech by MMC for Finance Peter Sutton inside Tshwane House. The party earlier protested outside. @EFFSouthAfrica @CityTshwane #EFF #tshwane @IOL pic.twitter.com/PxOEGShIp8— Pretoria News (@pretorianews) May 19, 2022
Ramabodu and his caucus members shouted at Theunissen, asking him who he thought he was to try to make demands on the “red berets”. His security eventually separated him from the EFF councillors.
Muthavhi said the problem with the DA-led administration was that it did not take the plight of the people seriously, prompting unending protests from aggrieved workers.
He said: “The EFF is right because it is raising the plight of the people and at the right platform because they have access to that. They understand that the struggle of the working-class worker is also the struggle of the politician.
“We do not accept that the City of Tshwane does not have money to afford to pay its workers their increase and to absorb outsourced workers.”
The City admitted that between January and February it generated R3.5 billion in revenue, he said.
“They are playing politics, but they want to accuse everyone of playing politics.
“They do not want to sit down with us as labour because they think we are going to advance the view of the ANC. They look at workers associated to Samwu as the people of the ANC.
“It is about time this administration sits down with all unions to find each other, so that we do not create the perception that we are always at loggerheads.
“To do that they must be willing to sit with us. The last time we handed them a memorandum, and instead of communicating with us they gave our memorandum to lawyers and those lawyers responded to it. That just shows the arrogance of this administration.”