Cosatu stands by Zuma hecklers

2017-05-10 06:02
Pres. Jacob Zuma (middle) with Sdumo Dlamini, president of Cosatu (left) and Ace Magashule, premier of the Free State, at the Workers’ Day rally in Bloemfontein. Photo: Mlungisi Louw

Pres. Jacob Zuma (middle) with Sdumo Dlamini, president of Cosatu (left) and Ace Magashule, premier of the Free State, at the Workers’ Day rally in Bloemfontein. Photo: Mlungisi Louw

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Cosatu in the Free State says it will defend members allegedly targeted by the Free State government for booing Pres. Jacob Zuma at the Workers’ Day rally on 1 May.

This follows a message that circulated two days after Zuma had been booed. It claimed that the provincial government was planning to isolate and victimise some workers who had participated in the booing.

The booing resulted in the cancellation of the rally without Zuma addressing hundreds of workers who had turned up for the event, which had been organised by Cosatu. The ANC president was to deliver a keynote address at the event at Loch Logan in Bloemfontein.

At an ANC meeting on 25 April, Premier Ace Magashule allegedly instructed heads of the department to isolate and victimise workers seen chanting anti-Zuma slogans.

Cosatu Free State Secretary Mon­yatso Mahlatsi said the union was aware of allegations.

“We have engaged the premier and he denied the allegation. We will defend and represent our members.”

The rally collapsed and speeches were cancelled after a large crowd of Cosatu affiliate union members had chanted “Zuma must fall”. Unions included the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and the National Health Education and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu).

A scuffle broke out between pro- and anti-Zuma groups.

Tiisetso Makhele, spokesperson for Magashule, has denounced the allegation of purging and victimisation of workers who are anti-Zuma, saying they were untrue.

He said the provincial government respected the rights of all employees and citizens to participate in legal activities of any trade union or political association of their choice.

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