Approximately 100 workers affiliated to the soon to be launched new federation, student activists and community activists from unemployed people’s movements across the country marched to Parliament on Budget Day. Their demand was that the South African government tax the rich to fund free education, create jobs and build houses for all South Africans.
This is what some of them had to say:
Vuyo Lefele, Western Cape leader of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), and affiliate of the New Federation:
“As the New Federation our main priority is job creation. We must end corruption and defend our manufacturing industry. Moreover, we need to end labour-broking that steals from workers.” He further stated that:
- We want permanent jobs at a living wage! No more retrenchments
- Government must increase tariffs that curtails dumping in South Africa, to protect and defend our manufacturing industry.
- It is imperative that government invests in free education in order to invest in the future leaders of the country and in young people who will contribute to the building of South Africa.
- Cosatu is dead. The New Federation must and will challenge government policies. Especially those policies that only further impoverish the poor. We no longer want to simply survive, we need to live a human life.
Interim Provincial Secretary of the South African Public Sector Union (SAPSU) demands that the government and finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, place emphasis on the poor people of South Africa.
Nonhle Mbuthuma representing the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) “Government must support agriculture and tourism in order to create sustainable jobs and sustainable development. It is also critical that government prioritises education and that its creates sustainable jobs.”
Mcebisi Mgojo leading member of the Sterkspruit Civic Association in the Eastern Cape said that “We do not want a pro-capital budget, we want a budget that is pro-poor! We want sustainable work and a transformative education system.”
Botshabelo Unemployment Movement (BUM) – wants job creation, instead of retrenchments. People are suffering and creating sustainable jobs can be one way of alleviating the plight of the poor.
Abraham Agulhas, Chairperson of the United Front in the Western Cape, supports the launch of the New Federation and supports workers in general in their fight against neoliberal capitalism that adversely impacts the working class and the poor:
“We demand job creation, in response to the unemployment crisis we face today. We are united against capitalism and unemployment, because we demand a a better quality of life for all.”
Democratic Municipal Workers Union of south Africa (Demawusa) – an affiliate of the New Federation cannot accept that the poor are getting poorer while the rich get richer. The New Federation is being launched to protect the interests of the marginalised. Government is not addressing the needs of the poor. The current neoliberal budget undermines peoples basic dignity. We want the government to know that we are no longer accepting a budget that only speaks to the interests of rich.
South African Green Revolutionary Council (SAGRC): “We need a more inclusive government, that puts people’s needs first. We are demanding that government provides free education, jobs and housing for all. Moreover, we want to highlight the issue of women as one of the most marginalised groups of people. We feel that the South African government has not done enough to address the issues facing women in our community and country.”
Trevor Christians, General Secretary of farmworker union CSAAWU: “We want our presence to be felt as the finance minister announces his capitalist budget. We reject the national minimum wage and support the mineworkers demand for a living wage of R12500 per month. We need to keep the spirit of Marikana alive, we demand a living wage.”
“The movement of the New Federation is very important for working class people in South Africa. As the people of South Africa, we have been betrayed by Cosatu and the ANC. We need to move into a new direction in South Africa where peoples needs are placed ahead of profit maximisation. Furthermore, we hope that the New Federation will be able to set the stage for a workers party towards socialism.”
Brian Kamanzi (UCT Student activist): “We are here in solidarity with the workers’ movement. We recognise the power of workers’ movements historically. We still feel that workers are the primary force in working against neoliberal capitalism. As students we have seen this at UCT where substantial gains have only been possible through student – worker alliances. For student activists seeking to move beyond campuses to community struggles, this march represents the next logical step for many student activists and we hope that others will do the same.”
Songezo Mazizi interdicted student from the University of the Western Cape (UWC). “I am here in solidarity with the workers struggle. Workers struggles and the struggle for fees to fall is intertwined. We reject the elitist budget proposed by the finance minister and instead are calling for a peoples budget.”