The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) organised a National Day of Action in Johannesburg on Thursday to bring attention to the considerable difficulties affecting Gauteng municipalities and the entire nation.

By Lezeth Khoza

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) took to the streets of Johannesburg on Thursday for a “National Day of Action” to draw attention to what it referred to as “pressing issues affecting Gauteng municipalities and the country as a whole.”

Several hundred workers, dressed in Cosatu regalia, gathered at the Cosatu headquarters, Cosatu House, in Braamfontein, causing traffic mayhem on a busy weekday.

Amos Monyele, the Gauteng Chairperson of the federation, addressed the marchers at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), emphasising the urgent need for the country to address various pressing issues. These include the high cost of living, soaring unemployment rate, gender-based violence, and femicide, as well as the energy and water crisis.

“The water crisis that led to the cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal is not just a local issue, but a constitutional matter and a violation of human rights,” said Monyele who claimed that only Cosatu had the capacity to hold the government accountable for its actions.

He claimed the elimination of e-tolls as one of Cosatu’s victories in holding the government accountable.

“We marched and campaigned against the e-tolls, today there are no e-tolls. As to how they are going to finance their scrapping,  it is none of our business,” he said.

Thabang Sonyathi, the Deputy, delivered the Cosatu memorandum to the SAHRC representatives who signed it. They then proceeded to lead the march to their next destinations, which included the Department of Labour and Employment and the Premier’s Office in downtown Johannesburg.

Here, the leaders of the labour federation spoke at length about the hardships experienced by workers regarding the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), retrenchments, and collective bargaining.

Sonyathi also took a swipe at the government’s handling of the problems faced by the women’s national soccer team, Banyana Banyana. In particular, he criticised the unequal pay between the female players and their male counterparts.

“There is a difference in wages between Bafana Bafana that ever disappoints us and Banyana Banyana that we are proud of,” he said.

Nonzuzo Dlamini, the spokesperson for Cosatu Gauteng, told The Telegram that the national predicament faced by workers is primarily linked to the declining economy of the country, emphasizing that this challenge is widespread.

“It is not just us here in Gauteng, the whole country is affected. Companies had to shut down because of load shedding and people were to be laid off. Inflation is rising, food prices are also rising, and everything is expensive, including petrol. That is why we are communicating to the government to do something about it,” she explained.

Dlamini also pointed out the effects of high-interest rates affecting South Africans: “People are struggling to pay off their debts, which is resulting in them losing their houses and cars.”

She expressed her distress regarding the impact of this situation on her personal experiences as a woman in South Africa.

“Some of my peers are single parents and it is really hard for them to raise their kids, I worry about being a single parent myself, which is basically a South African story,” said Dlamini.

She expressed her belief that the government has the necessary funds and resources to address these problems but chooses not to do so. She further stated that the government has the ability to allocate sufficient funds to law enforcement agencies in order to combat crime and corruption, thus ensuring equitable distribution of resources.

“The government has the means to ensure that law enforcement agencies have the funds to fight crime and corruption in order to ensure equitable distribution of all resources,” said Dlamini.

Cosatu provided 14 days for all recipients of the memorandums to respond.

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