The F-word: DA’s intolerance led to Cosatu march

2012-05-19 10:11

Let’s get this one aspect out of the way quickly – violence is an archaic and an unacceptable way of dealing with political differences.

Those who opt for this solution effectively declare themselves lacking in sound and convincing reasons for their points of view or course of action.

South Africa has long passed an era where violence against ideological opponents could be deemed justifiable. It doesn’t matter who threw the first stone.

That said, the DA’s march against a fellow non-policy maker smacks of intolerance. In essence, the DA went to the streets to demand that Cosatu think like the DA.

This is arrogant, chauvinistic and patronising.

Though true that Cosatu is first to march against those it has a beef with, we know that it marches against policy makers and wage payers.

It does not march against Nactu or Solidarity just because they won’t adopt the Freedom Charter or prefer helping white workers.

The DA created the false impression that it depends on Cosatu whether the youth wage subsidy becomes law, as if the union federation always gets its way. Cosatu has won and lost some.

Its tantrums over the Growth, Employment and Redistribution programme came to naught.

They are losing the battle against the total ban on labour brokers. President Jacob Zuma said in Parliament this week that the government would resume the youth wage plan despite Cosatu’s opposition to it.

The DA’s uncontested right to march should not blind us to Cosatu’s equivalent right to hold a view that differs from the DA or even the ANC’s.

The only conclusion to be drawn is that the DA went to Braamfontein seeking martyrs and to buttress that ­middle-class view that Cosatu was a bunch of thugs.

Cosatu hooliganism and counter-intolerance handed the DA its wish. To that end, the DA’s march was a resounding success.

That’s why their leaders made outlandish statements comparing their little misadventure with the heroics of the 1976 generation of Soweto schoolchildren.

The DA might have won the hearts of the chattering classes but the working class of South Africa will know that they have never had a more faithful champion than Cosatu, imperfect as it is.

Who would blame the DA for trying to peddle the lie that Cosatu does not care for the working class when it is becoming fashionable to pretend that South Africa’s macro-economic problems can be blamed on the working class and organised labour?

Have we not just heard from a reputable economist that the average South African worker is overpaid at about R13 000 a month? Yeah right.

The people of South Africa know a different Cosatu to the one painted by the DA and its fans.

They know it to be the most legitimate voice against a virtual ANC dictatorship.

They remember Cosatu speaking out when the ANC was cowed into silence over former President Thabo Mbeki’s recalcitrance on HIV/Aids treatment; they know it as a steadfast champion against attempts to introduce secrecy laws; they know too that with other civil society bodies, it leads the fight against state corruption.

Gauteng motorists know that the reason they don’t pay to drive on their province’s highways was because of Cosatu’s activism.

It makes perfect sense why the DA is envious of Cosatu. They are the most effective and legitimate political opposition we have in South Africa.

But as young people would say, don’t hate Cosatu because it’s beautiful in the eyes of the South African working class.

If the DA seeks to replace Cosatu as the legitimate voice of the working class, it should start working on its chauvinistic, patronising attitude and the arrogance that makes them demand that everyone else abandon their thoughts and adopt those preferred by our champions of liberal democracy.

» Follow me on Twitter @fikelelo

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