Vavi warns workers to avoid ‘butcher of the working class’ after budget

Trade unionist Zwelinzima Vavi has warned workers to start organising themselves against exploitation after “multibillionaire” President Cyril Ramaphosa made it clear that mines and monopoly companies have nothing to worry about.

Vavi was addressing the National Congress of the Transport Action Retail and General Workers Union’s Congress on Saturday in Durban, also known as To Have Oppression Removed (Thor).

He was once again critical of the budget speech presented by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on Wednesday and what it would mean for the next year under a Ramaphosa presidency.

“They have no worries whatsoever; they [now] know more than before that their mines, monopoly industries, the oceans and even the land will remain firmly in their hands,” said Vavi, general secretary of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu).

“Those who accumulated property under colonialism and apartheid will continue to be the owners of that property.

“Those whose land was dispossessed and who have no property will continue like before being the property-less and landless class,” he told delegates at the conference.

READ MORE: SACP, unions slam Budget as ‘attack on the poor’

Vavi told Thor delegates that 76% of South Africa’s workers are not in a union and are vulnerable because they can’t negotiate their pay or protect their rights.

He said Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) and Gigaba’s budget left those exploiting the working class “ecstatic” because nothing would change.

“They know that there are no major policy changes to even threaten the status quo. In fact, they are colluding with the ruling class to make sure that the workers forget about their own challenges,” he said.

“To them now that Jacob Zuma is no longer the president, things must return to ‘normal’.”

Vavi said in this time of “fragmented” unions, there will be a campaign by workers to oppose the one percentage point increase in value-added tax (VAT) that Gigaba announced this week, and a strike over the new minimum wages.

“If we don’t take up heightened mass mobilisation against the neoliberalism, we should not blame workers who will again replace one butcher of the working class with another butcher of the working class in the 2019 general elections and beyond.”

Vavi was kicked out of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) for “gross misconduct” in 2013 after initially being a staunch supporter of President Jacob Zuma.

READ MORE: ANC caucus didn’t want VAT hike

He has thrown his weight behind the National Metalworkers Union of South Africa (NUMSA)  which was kicked out of Cosatu for resolving to break its alliance agreement to support the African National Congress during general elections and has worked with Numsa’s general secretary Irvin Jim to build Saftu. – News24

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.

Jenni Evans
Jenni Evans
Journalist at News24. Love reading, sunshine.

Zuma turns on judiciary as trial nears

Former president says pre-trial correspondence is part of another plot

High court declares Dudu Myeni delinquent

Disgraced former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni has been declared a delinquent director by the...

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments

Press Releases

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

Openview, now powered by two million homes

The future of free-to-air satellite TV is celebrating having two million viewers by giving away two homes worth R2-million

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

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday