Zuma warns about wildcat strikes

A seemingly relaxed President Jacob Zuma  addressed the National House of Traditional Leaders in Parliament on Thursday, a day after a heated debate in the National Assembly about the landing of a plane carrying Gupta wedding guests at the Waterkloof Air Force Base.

Zuma stayed away from the debate on Wednesday, where he was accused by opposition MPs of being the root cause of the Waterkloof saga.

He used his address on Thursday to criticise wildcat strikes, particularly in the mining industry, warning that they had the potential to wreck the South African economy and impoverish the country.

"I'm saying our economy, which is resilient, is facing that kind of a challenge," he said. "The tension in the industry will not help the economy of the country. I'm stressing the point because, as leaders, there are some responsibilities we could undertake; we could impoverish our country without realising it."

He said he was not opposed to workers' right to strike, but the issue was how it was done. "Do we do it to make others lose their jobs or so that others could get jobs?"

Zuma said wildcat strikes were hardly the way to advance the interests of marginalised sections of the people in a democratic dispensation.

"We should demand better salaries and working conditions, but we may not wreck the economy," he said.

Zuma said union leadership needed to draw the line between anarchy and constructive engagement. "If the workers demand higher wages and that becomes a point so sharp of conflict that it could produce a Marikana, then there's something wrong in our society."

Zuma said he spoke as a former trade unionist, during whose time people didn't "wake up angry and call a strike".

"It gives an impression that the understanding of trade unionism is one-sided or very narrow. The understanding of trade unionism is how do you protect your members, how to make sure they continue working."


Zuma also applauded traditional leaders for a "measured debate", saying members of Parliament needed to learn from them.

Most traditional leaders were highly positive about the government.

"I've listened closely to the deliberations of the house and I am uplifted by what our leaders have said here," Zuma said. "Something is different about the debate in this house. The discussion of serious issues facing the nation is free from party-political grandstanding and instead is characterised by mutual respect.

"It's a lesson we all need to learn from, that we cannot promote politics above the nation and our people and think that politicking in oppositional kind of politics is helpful."  

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it
Advertising

Press Releases

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations