Saftu, Cosatu differ on Ramaphosa

One wanted the buffalo slaughtered, the other heeded his Thuma Mina (send me) call.

Representatives of two unions who picketed outside Parliament on Thursday had very different views of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

"On your marks, get set, we are ready for Ramaphosa," were the words which about 120 Cosatu picketers sang, while a group of Saftu protesters twice their size, echoed the cry of their leader Zwelinzima Vavi: "V*****k Cyril Ramaphosa! V*****k!"

Saftu's march made its way to Parliament at about 12:30, while Cosatu followed them at 14:30. Some Cosatu members waited in a bus in Roeland Street, Cape Town for the Saftu event to finish at the foot of the statue of Louis Botha outside Parliament.

Vavi laid into Ramaphosa and mentioned his role in the Marikana massacre and his wealth, before describing him as the "worst butcher of the working class".

He rejected the national minimum wage.

"With that R20 you can't buy a burger in his (Ramaphosa's) McDonald's shop," he said.

He also suggested that Ramaphosa find a space behind his buffaloes to put the R20, R18, R15 or R11 of the minimum wages. In addition, he suggested that MPs try to live on a wage of R20 a day.

"To hell with all of you and your slavery wages!" Vavi steamed.

"That type of minimum wage is a declaration of war to all workers in the country."

Cosatu representatives said the union's picket was a case of shopstewards heeding Ramaphosa's call of Thuma Mina.

Like Saftu, Cosatu complained about the recent VAT increase in its memorandum as well as Cape Town's handling of the water crisis.

But it differed from Saftu in its response to the minimum wage. Cosatu expressed a concern about the delay in implementing it and want it to be fast-tracked.

"We appreciate that it is a minimum wage and not a living wage, which we understand will address the worst forms of exploitation. We are, however, demanding a living wage that will ensure that workers have enough wages to sustain their families' needs," its memorandum read.

"This minimum wage is a move in the right direction. It will see around four million workers increase their incomes from implementation. The federation wants the implementation to be fast-tracked and we want farm and domestic workers to be included in the minimum wage as soon as possible."

Cosatu also asked that people found guilty of corruption end up in jail and that Ramaphosa and Parliament intervene in the gang and drug situation in the Western Cape.

Saftu is also upset about amendments to labour legislation, saying it infringed on worker's rights and would allow employers to interfere in organised labour matters.


Western Cape Cosatu secretary Tony Ehrenreich on stage with Saftu's Zwelinzima Vavi. (Jan Gerber,  News24)

"This is how Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan killed the unions in Britain and the United States," said Vavi.

"This is a life and death struggle we must wage."

Western Cape Cosatu secretary Tony Ehrenreich appeared on stage while Vavi was speaking.

"He belongs here amongst the truthtellers," Vavi said of his former comrade. "Not the liars he leads today."

Later Vavi shouted, with Ehrenreich off the stage: "Rest in hell Cosatu! Rest in hell!"

Saftu dispersed minutes before Cosatu was due to start and Cosatu left about an hour later.