21 February 2019

South Africa: A Tale of Two Marches


Trade union federations Cosatu and Saftu took to the streets before the 2019 Budget speech to protest against the unbundling of Eskom, the subsequent possibility of job losses, and broader worker issues of unemployment. Despite the similarity of their agendas -- and even marching on the same route to Parliament -- the two federations protested separately and on different days. Saftu, a breakaway body, is opposed to the ANC government's economic policies, while Cosatu's aims are to hold the government accountable, but to remain within the fold as a member of the tripartite alliance.

"Zizo Jika izinto! (things will change)" was the lyrical chant that rang out as workers in red garb assembled on Keizersgracht Street in Cape Town on Tuesday and Wednesday, the traditional starting point for inner-city marches.

The workers took part in separate marches to Parliament by rival trade unions -- the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) -- on 19 and 20 February respectively. Both delivered memorandums opposing, among other issues, the unbundling of Eskom and potential job losses. The protests were intended to coincide with the 2019 Budget speech delivered by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni....

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