Wage subsidy march in PMB today

2012-06-11 00:00

THE Democratic Alliance is bringing its wage subsidy battle to the streets of Pietermaritzburg today.

A contingent of more than 700 supporters lead by DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko will be marching in the morning from Dales Park in Pietermaritz Street to the Premier’s Office in Langalibalele Street. No violent clashes are expected because the trade union congress, Cosatu, will be staying well away.

It has no problem with the march and will not stop it from taking place.

Cosatu provincial secretary, Zet Luzipo, said the DA was doing the right thing this time and marching to a government office, where policy was made. He said this was unlike the march in Johannesburg three weeks ago when the party marched to Cosatu House.

“When you march on an organisation that does not share your views, that’s just intolerance. But when you march on government, that is lobbying and seeking to influence policy decisions,” Luzipo added.

The DA’s wage subsidy march in Johannesburg three weeks ago ended in violence as union members prevented marchers from reaching Cosatu House. At least two people were seriously injured when rocks were thrown and police used water cannons and fired teargas to contain the situation.

Mazibuko is not expecting problems. She said Pietermaritzburg was chosen as the next part of the campaign because KwaZulu-Natal Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize had said that the ANC in KZN supported the youth wage subsidy. His statement came after the ANC provincial executive committee held its first meeting since being elected last Monday. He reiterated this position at the KZN Legislature last Thursday.

Mazibuko said the aim of the march in the capital was to present Mkhize with an opportunity to put politics aside and to join Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s call for the roll-out of the wage subsidy.

Mkhize is not taking up the invitation any time soon and instead warned political parties not to play with the emotions of young people to score political points.

His spokesperson, Ndabe Sibiya, said the premier had indicated that the issue of the wage subsidy was under discussion at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) and it was unbecoming for the DA to use this issue to score points while the process was under way.

Sibiya said Mkhize was well aware of the march, but he would be in Johannesburg attending a special national executive committee meeting of the ANC. Sibiya said a representative of the Premier’s office would accept the memorandum.

Msunduzi Municipality and police are also not expecting matters to get out of hand. Municipal spokesman Brian Zuma said no other organisation had applied to carry out marches at the same time.

Zuma said the security cluster, which liaises with the SA Police Service, met on Friday and arrangements had been made for adequate security to be in place to meet any eventuality.

With just over 700 marchers expected, there would be no road closures in the city centre, Zuma said. There would be temporary closures as the marchers moved from Dales Park into Mayors Walk and turned right into West Street then into Langalibalele Street and walked all the way down to the Premier’s office, opposite Freedom Square.

DA followers will assemble from 9 am and the march is expected to end by noon. Mazibuko will be leading the march with DA provincial leader Sizwe Mchunu, the party’s federal youth chairperson, Mbali Ntuli, and KZN youth leader Bongumusa Nhlabathi.

Mchunu said that if the wage subsidy was rolled out in KZN, the premier would not have to overspend on his budget by over R34 million on his youth ambassador programme.

“We are bringing this issue to KZN where over 60% of young people are unemployed and where the youth form the majority of the population,” he said.

Mazibuko said the DA’s wage subsidy campaign would continue depending on how things unfolded. She said the party had noted the delay at Nedlac, where the unemployed had no representation.

She said Zille would be going to Nedlac, which is made up of business, trade unions and government representatives, to raise this issue.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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