South Africa’s powerful labour movement has told Thabo Mbeki and his cabinet ministers to “dismiss themselves” for ignoring Eskom’s warning in the late 1990s of impending power shortages.
The call was made Wednesday by Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi to a 6 000-strong protesting crowd outside the Durban City Hall: “The government ministers must be the first to go, and not the poor workers … and that’s the call we are making to the president. Dismiss the ministers. Consider dismissing yourself, because you were the manager.”
Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) is holding electricity protest.
South Africa has suffered electricity shortages since the start of the year as power utility Eskom struggles to generate enough of the energy source to meet demand.
The strike effectively shut down the city and severely affected the rest of KwaZulu-Natal in its protest against job losses caused by the electricity crisis and spiraling food, fuel and other prices.
Workers yesterday stayed away from work in large numbers.
Wednesday protests where just the beginning on a series.
It says these would be followed by similar protests in the Free State, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape on July 16, and in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and North West on July 23.
On August 6, there would be a “national strike” with a work stay-away and marches throughout the country.
“Enough is enough. We are angry. We can do anything and everything within our power to stop this.”
“We will use this power to talk sense to the powers because the price increases have led to the escalating price of food and other things.”
He warned that more mass action would take place if electricity tariffs were not reduced.
“We will fight for low food prices because we need food to live. This is a promise and will be fulfilled.”
The march had a huge economic impact on businesses, as 70% of workers in labour-intensive industries like construction, production and manufacturing stayed away.