News24

Zuma berates protesting soldiers

2009-09-12 17:38

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has berated soldiers who took part in an alleged violent protest last month, saying they displayed "a lack of social responsibility when exercising one's right to strike and protest".

"The failure to respect the laws of the land, and the rights of others enshrined in the Constitution, points to a serious problem that we must urgently address as government, as we have done, through law enforcement," Zuma said on Saturday.

Addressing the National Economic Development Labour Council (Nedlac) summit in Kempton Park, Zuma said this year's labour-related conflicts needed employers and workers to revisit their interactions and styles of collective bargaining.

"This of course excludes the military which is governed by its own regulations and protocols... The failure to respect the laws of the land and the rights of others enshrined in the Constitution [by soldiers and municipal workers] points to a serious problem that we must urgently address as government, as we have done, through law enforcement," he said.

Zuma's statement comes just three days after Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu undertook not to dismiss soldiers affiliated to the SA National Defence Union (Sandu) as a result of the August 26 march.

This after Sandu took Sisulu and the Chief of the SANDF to court on Wednesday to stop its members from being dismissed and to declare the procedure adopted in dismissal notices served on them unconstitutional.

Zuma also addressed the Nedlac summit on economic issues currently plaguing the country and highlighted the importance of speeding up growth.

"Although it took a bit longer before affecting South Africa, the economic crisis has bitten deep. The growing job losses during this year and rising indebtedness have made it clear that the effects of the crisis have hit hardest at the poor and vulnerable, thereby deepening poverty and inequality.

"Lower growth poses substantial challenges for trade and industry, employment and training, income distribution and social security. But we will have to rise to the challenge and seek opportunities to speed up the recovery and lay the basis for a more equitable long-term growth and development path," Zuma said.