Look after miners and farm workers, says Zuma

2013-05-01 16:49

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Organised labour must pay more attention to the living conditions of South African miners and farm workers, President Jacob Zuma has said.

“We need to fight that part of the struggle together,” he said at a Workers’ Day rally in the Galeshewe Stadium in Kimberley today.

The rally was hosted by the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu).

Zuma said South Africa should bear in mind that mining and agriculture were the backbone of the country’s economy.

He said the lives of miners lost at Marikana was a tragedy and plans to improve the conditions of workers should be accelerated.

“We have to draw lessons from Marikana, a tragedy, and the untold pain it caused must not reoccur in South Africa.”

Marikana made headlines when labour turbulence at Lonmin’s platinum mine culminated in a violent clash between police and striking miners on August 16 last year.

A total of 34 mineworkers were shot dead on the day and 78 were wounded. Another 10 people had been killed in the preceding week.

Zuma said workers should work for unity in Cosatu.

He said workers must prevent efforts to establish a “better vehicle” than the National Union of Mineworkers, Cosatu and the ANC, and guard against division in their ranks.

“Unity in Cosatu is paramount. We need a united Cosatu to promote the rights of workers.”

Zuma urged the labour movement to work seriously to unite the federation and to resolve any differences.

He said unity among workers was their best weapon and they were also the cornerstone of the tripartite alliance’s democratic forces.

Zuma said workers should defend their rights, but they needed to show respect for the rights of others.

"When we say our rights must be respected, we must respect the rights of others…that is the way we could defend our democracy."

He said the ANC's economic vision was based on the Freedom Charter in that the people had to share South Africa's wealth.

"Political freedom must come with economic freedom for the South African society to be successful."

Zuma said the National Development Plan (NDP) was not a carbon copy of ANC's policies but it was close to it and was discussed extensively within the ANC.

"The plan is consistent with ANC ethos and values."

He said those within the alliance structures who have views on the NDP should raise them within structures.

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