Bid to stop May Day march was to save Zuma embarrassment - Numsa

2015-04-30 19:25
(Sidali Djarboub, AP)

(Sidali Djarboub, AP)

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Durban - The attempt to cancel Numsa’s planned May Day march through Durban was nothing more than a bid to prevent President Jacob Zuma from being embarrassed.

This claim was made in papers that the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) submitted in its successful KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban action to force eThekwini Metro Municipality to allow the march to take place.

Judge Yvonne Mbatha on Thursday granted the union’s request for an order to allow the march to take place.

The union, which was recently expelled from Cosatu, had originally been granted permission, but it was then retracted by municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole.

In an affidavit submitted in support of the order, Numsa regional secretary Mbuso Ngubane accused Sithole of acting unlawfully when he cancelled the march.

Ngubane said that Sithole only cancelled the march on April 23.

“It was clear that a political decision had been taken and that a successful demonstration by the applicant [Numsa] and others in Durban on May 1 2015 would embarrass the president and emphasise his waning popularity.”

Sithole had argued in his affidavit before court that the Numsa march was political in nature and not a May Day march. He had said that he was not prohibiting Numsa from holding a march, but that they could hold their march on another day.

Opposing May Day marches

Cosatu is also holding holding a march and a rally on Friday, marching from the Workshop Gardens, up Monty Naicker Street (formerly Pine Street) to the Curries Fountain Stadium. The expelled Cosatu affiliate Numsa is marching in the opposite direction from Botha Gardens down Dr Pixley Kaseme Street (formerly West Street) to the Durban City Hall.

Sithole argued that Cosatu’s march was purely to celebrate Workers Day.

“The first respondent [the eThekwini Metro Municipality] is in possession of information which leads to the inescapable conclusion that the timing of the applicant’s [Numsa] march and gathering has been contrived so as to create an atmosphere for political jostling and violence. That we cannot allow.”

Sithole argued that because of the two routes - Monty Naicker Street and Dr Pixley KaSeme Street - run parallel to with each other, there was a great possibility of contact. The two streets are about 100m apart and joined by several roads.

“There is a genuine fear of provocation and reaction thereto and ensuing friction. The fear of violence is very real.”

Sithole said that as Zuma was addressing the Cosatu marchers at Curries Fountain, the city had an obligation to ensure that it limited “conflict and violence in the general vicinity of the State President”.

Cosatu had informed the city that it expected 7 000 marchers to attend its rally, while Numsa expected 10 000 people to attend.

“The police cannot deal with a conflict involving some 17 000 trade unionists. The decision is necessary to prevent bloodshed,” said Sithole.

However, Ngubane argued that in their consultations with the police - both the SA Police Service and the eThekwini Metro Police - these concerns had never been raised. He also argued that the union was prepared to delay the start of the march to allow the Cosatu march to reach the stadium.

“The police themselves were quite happy with the routes and certainly did not communicate any concerns to us on April 2 [when the union met with police] that the combined presence of both the metro police and the SAPS would not be sufficient to handle any eventuality that might arise,” argued Ngubane.

He said that the union was deploying 1 000 marshals to control the Numsa marchers.

He said the union had spent more than R700 000 on the march for T-shirts and advertising.

Read more on:    cosatu  |  numsa  |  jacob zuma  |  durban  |  politics

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