Zuma slams opportunists, 'desperate elements' promoting anarchy and chaos

2016-05-01 19:00
President Jacob Zuma addressing tens of thousands of supporters at Giyani Stadium, Limpopo on 27 April 2016.

President Jacob Zuma addressing tens of thousands of supporters at Giyani Stadium, Limpopo on 27 April 2016. (Erin Bates)

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Pretoria – In what could be seen as response to EFF leader Julius Malema’s threats to take up arms against the ANC-led government, President Jacob Zuma on Sunday criticised "political opportunists" who would wreak havoc on the country.

"Some desperate elements seem hell-bent to promote anarchy and chaos,” Zuma told thousands of ANC, Cosatu and SACP supporters at a May Day rally in Morelete Park, Mamelodi.

"The people must isolate political parties that advocate the use of violence in a free and democratic South Africa,” he said.

This year, two competing May Day rallies were held in Gauteng. The Mamelodi event was held under the banner of the Cosatu. The second, in Tembisa, was for former Cosatu members, such as Numsa, and was address by the trade union federation’s former general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi.

Zuma also too the opportunity to berate "opportunists" who had switched loyalties. He did not mention names, but Malema was once an ANC Youth League leader and a staunch Zuma supporter.

'Anarchy and destruction'

Those opportunists could not be allowed “to take us back to the period of anarchy and destruction", said Zuma. "We must also isolate and shun parties that promote disunity and divisions within our country, that promote thuggery and chaos,” he said.

Malema recently told an interviewer on Al Jazeera the EFF would “literally” remove the government at gunpoint if it continued disrespecting its members.

Zuma called for the ANC's alliance with the SACP and Cosatu to remain strong and warned that without the ANC in power, the country would be in “big trouble”.

Zuma has survived several attempts by opposition parties in Parliament to remove him as president, including a vote of no confidence in April.

The motion came after the Constitutional Court ruled Zuma had failed to uphold the Constitution when he did not comply with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's remedial action regarding the non-security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

'Wrong system'

Zuma told the rally on Sunday that the exploitation of workers continued because the "wrong system is still in place"

Zuma gave a history of how the day started. He said the leaders back in the day marched to ensure that workers would be respected and not taken for granted.

He said people were arrested and killed on the day but those who had organised the march had the foresight to realise the importance of being united and unionised.

"It was clear that the capitalist system was very strong. The workers' leaders were fighting for the rights of workers not to be victimised. With the passage of time, workers mobilised into powerful unions. They said this because they knew the exploitation of workers wouldn't last forever without the conscious workers rising to organise themselves," he said.

Also speaking at the gathering, SACP leader Blade Nzimande called on the tripartite alliance to close ranks against the “enemy”.

Meanwhile, ANC deputy secretary general, Jessie Duarte, told those attending a Cosatu May Day rally in Bloemfontein there had been many attempts in the party’s 104-year history to divide it.

"Whether people like us or don’t like us, the reality is that we have delivered for this country in hard core, tangible, real terms. You cannot take away from us that we have brought peace to this country.”

Not for the lazy

Speaking at the rival celebrations at the Mehlareng Stadium in Tembisa, Vavi said a proposed new labour federation to compete with Cosatu would not be for the lazy. "If you are lazy, we do not want you in this federation. Shop stewards who abuse their power and let employers exploit workers can join the sweetheart federation in Pretoria. Those who steal workers' money can go to Pretoria. Sdumo Dlamini and Zuma are waiting for them," he said to the approximately 3 000 supporters gathered.

Vavi was expelled from Cosatu in March 2015 for bringing it into disrepute and causing divisions by speaking out against the ANC government’s policies and saying it had failed workers. He had since been involved in forming a new union federation.

Also speaking at the Tembisa event, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA general secretary, Irvin Jim, encouraged members of Cosatu to "quickly get out" and join the new rival labour federation.

“We are targeting is 70% of workers who are not organised. Those workers must leave Cosatu in droves. Why must they have some sister who is president who has no clue what is the state of South African economy?" he said.

Numsa was expelled from Cosatu in November 2014 for not supporting the ANC in the elections that year.

Read more on:    sacp  |  cosatu  |  anc  |  numsa  |  jacob zuma  |  politics

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