1 May 2014

South Africa: Colour Me Political - May Day and the Elections That Are Just a Few Days Away


When the 100th anniversary of May Day was commemorated in 1986, Cosatu, which had been formed in December 1985, demanded that the day be recognised as a public holiday.

When that demand was not met, Cosatu's call for a stay-away was heeded by more than 1,5-million workers. Thousands of school pupils, students, taxi drivers, hawkers, shopkeepers, domestic workers, self-employed and unemployed people rallied and stayed away from work.

It was an unparalleled show of strength by South African workers, and further mobilisation against the Apartheid state. Two decades after the dawn of democracy, it's again a pivotal day to commemorate.

In 2014, 20 years after South Africa's first democratic election, May Day is indeed observed as a public holiday, Workers' Day. And this year, the need for an affirmation of the rights of workers in South Africa is particularly significant.

An Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union AMCU-led strike in South African platinum mines, which involves about 70,000 workers, has been going on for three months at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin.

Unlike the ANC, who struck more foreboding notes of the platinum miners' strike, United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa is ...

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