March 2012, Week 1


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Wed, 7 Mar 2012 22:01:45 -0500
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Thousands March as South Africans Strike (Two items)

    Unions federation called national strike to demand
    improved worker rights and end to controversial road
    tolls scheme.

March 7, 2012


Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in South
Africa as a trade union federation called a nationwide strike
to demonstrate for improved worker rights and against plans
to introduce unpopular road tolls.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Congress of South African
Trade Unions (COSATU), said that the country's system of
casual labour, known as "labour broking" in which middlemen
acted between employers and workers, amounted to "modern day

COSATU is part of a tripartite alliance with the African
 National Congress, South Africa's ruling party, and the
 South Africa Communist Party. But in the statement, COSATU
 called for protests against the government.

"We must force the government and the ruling party, the
 [ANC], to scrap the exorbitant e-tolling system and ban
 modern day slavery (labour broking)"

- COSATU statement

The body is concerned that after 18 years in power, the party
revered for leading the battle against apartheid has become
complacent and needs to be pushed to replace corrupt or
incompetent leaders with politicians who can deliver.

"We must force the government and the ruling party, the
African National Congress, to scrap the exorbitant e- tolling
system and ban modern day slavery [labour broking]," COSATU

Police estimate 50,000 people marched in Johannesburg, South
Africa's economic hub. Smaller crowds turned out in Cape Town
and other cities and towns.

The demonstrations progressed peacefully, although there were
reports early on Wednesday that people trying to board
commuter trains to work were beaten, allegedly by protesters
who wanted the demonstrations to shut down commerce.

Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa, reporting from Johannesburg, said
frustration with labour brokers had drawn many out to join
the protests.

"They say these labour brokers exploit the workers - they
 don't pay them enough and that they work for long hours and
 they do not get any benefits like health insurance," Mutasa

The e-tolling system, to come into effect in April, by which
South Africans would have to pay to use public roads, has
also proved unpopular, our correspondent said, with strikers
saying that scheme is too expensive and that the government
should fit the bill of servicing and maintaining roads.

In a speech on the eve of the march, Zwelinzima Vavi,
 COSATU's leader, said the toll road debate summed up
 concerns about growing inequality in South Africa.

'Fancy cars'

"The logic of those who say that the poor do not use our
motorways, except by public transport, is that they should be
permanently excluded from access to the best roads. They must
find the potholed side-roads to get from A to B, while the
rich glide along in their fancy cars," Vavi said.

"Good health and education services currently belong to the
 wealthier sections of society, who can afford to pay. We do
 not want yet another addition to the list."

In a statement, the ANC said Wednesday's demonstrations were
"unnecessary, but we nonetheless respect the right of those
who want to protest".

The party said it had responded to concerns that the tolls
would hurt the poor by exempting the buses and taxi vans used
by many poorer South Africans.

The government also capped monthly toll fees at about $70, so
 no driver would pay more than that no matter how much he or
 she used the improved roads.

Mutasa said that COSATU has had a lot of power in the past in
terms of shaping South African policy.

The strike was expected to be backed by the youth league of
 the ruling ANC, the ANCYL, and the South African Democratic
 Teachers' Union (SADTU).

The recently expelled chairperson of the ANCYL, Julius
Malema, attended the protest briefly and was greeted to
chants of his nickname "Juju", reported a local news agency,

The marches, coming before an ANC policy-making conference in
June and pivotal meeting in December to elect top party
leaders, are seen by some as an attempt by COSATU to
influence the ANC's course.

The ANCYL said on its website that it "fully and unreservedly
supports the strike led by COSATU calling for labour brokers
and immediate cancellation of e- tolling".

"We call on all members of society, particularly the youth to
join in the mass protests across the country, because the
issues COSATU is raising are genuine issues," the party said.

The ANC has been in power since the end of apartheid in 1994
is under pressure to show it can work more quickly to improve
the lives of black South Africans, many of whom continue to
live in poverty despite economic growth and greater political
freedom and stability.

A quarter of South Africa's labour force is officially out of
work, but experts say the percentage would be higher if the
discouraged and the underemployed were counted.

Business groups have argued that instead of banning labour
brokers, COSATU should work with them and the government to
better regulate them. 

= = = = =

Joint COSATU, SACP and SASCO Mpumalanga media statements on
Political Developments in the Province

SACP March 5, 2012


The Congress of South African Trade Unions, the South African
 Communist Party and the South African Student Congress in
 Mpumalanga are mobilising their members for the mother of
 all battles protest march to be held on the 07 March 2012.

The three progressive organisations will jointly lead two
 protest marches in Mpumalanga to protest in demand of the

    The total banning of the labour brokers

    To demand for an end to corruption in the province.

    To demand for the outcome of the investigation on the
     murder of political leaders in the province.

The protest marches will be held as follows: -

    Emalahleni Municipality - from Lynnville stadium to the
    Department of Labour.

    Mbombela Municipality - from the Nelspruit Showground to
     the Provincial Legislature.


The system of labour brokers is in direct contradiction with
the Decent Work Agenda as defined by the International Labour
Organisation (ILO),.

It is in direct contradiction with the values of our
constitution, it is in direct contradiction with the Labour
Relations Act of this country. COSATU, SACP and SASCO demands
for the total banning of the system of labour brokering for
the following reasons: -

    Labour brokers do not create jobs but merely act as
    intermediaries to access the job that already exist.

    The replacement of normal jobs through Labour broking
     arrangements effectively destroys jobs.

    Labour broking is tantamount to slavery, as it amounts to
    the trading of human beings as commodities.

    Apart from undermining collective bargaining rights,
     labour brokers are also often called upon to provide
     scab labour as substitute for workers on strike.

    Labour broking, combined with other forms of a typical
    work reflects current trends of the intensification of
    the rate of exploitation of workers.

    Labour brokering amounts to delegation or refusal of the
    true employer to comply with its obligation

Increased regulation of the Labour brokers will not work
 because capacity constraints with the Department of Labour
 to enforce existing legislations and a ban against labour
 brokers have proven to be simply cumbersome for the
 Department of Labour.


COSATU, SACP and SASCO demands for the end to corruption in
the province. We believe that corruption steels from the

Corruption is rife in Mpumalanga.

Recently the Auditor General reported that more than 80% of
 the tenders issued in the province were issued irregular.

Amongst the many corruption cases in the province are the
following: -

    The 43 million scandals regarding the building of the
    Mbombela stadium. The withdrawal of the charges against
    the former municipal manager Mr Jacob Dladla and the
    golden handshake given to Mr Dladla by the Mbombela
    Municipality. The tractor scandal in the Department of
    Agriculture costing hundreds of millions of rands. More
    than R300 000.00 million that MEGA is failing to account
    for. The theft of R2,7 million from the Mbombela


It is now more than twelve (12) months since the suspended
National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele announced
that he has instituted of 12 highly qualified investigators
to probe the killing of political leaders in Mpumalanga.

The people of Mpumalanga are not prepared to wait until
another political leader is murdered before demanding the
outcome of the investigation.

Over the past six years or so, more than ten political
leaders were murdered in Mpumalanga.

Amongst those murdered are the following: -

Bomber Ntshangase - SACP leader in Mpumalanga

Gabriel Mkhumbane (Deputy President) - Swaziland Pupils
United Democratic Movement Organisation

Johan Ndlovu - Chief Whip of the Mbombela Local Municipality

Sammy Mpatlanyane - Mpumalanga Sports, Arts and Culture

Jimmy Mohlala - Mbombela Local Municipality Speaker

COSATU, SACP and SASCO demands the outcome of the above cases
and many more and the outcome of the probe against the
political murder in the province as instituted by the
suspended National Police Commissioner.

= = =


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