DA march turns nasty

The DA marched to Cosatu House in Johannesburg to force the union to change its negative stance on the youth wage subsidy, arguing that the subsidy would create about 400,000 jobs

THE Democratic Alliance's youth wage subsidy march was dealt a major blow yesterday when its members were prevented from reaching Cosatu House in Braamfontein by the labour union federation members.

A handful of police officers at the march failed to control the crowd, resulting in several people, including a journalist, being injured when objects - including stones - were thrown at them.

Cosatu members spared no one, with DA leader Helen Zille, youth leader Makashule Gana, parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko and national spokesman Mmusi Maimane, who all led the protest, also targeted.

Police had to fire teargas and rubber bullets during the confrontation to control the crowd.

On Sunday, National Union of Mineworkers secretary Irvin Jim had warned Zille to stop the march ... "or else".

The DA marched to Cosatu House in Johannesburg to force the union to change its negative stance on the youth wage subsidy, arguing that the subsidy would create about 400,000 jobs.

In its fierce opposition, Cosatu is charging that employers would fire old workers to employ youngsters.

The matter is currently being discussed at the National Economic Development and Labour Council.

A DA member was seen lying on the ground in agony after he was hit by a rubber bullet in his private parts.

Another protester bled from one eye.

DA members were unable to hand over their memorandum to Cosatu leaders as union members forced them to turn back.

Neither Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini nor general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi condemned the violence.

Earlier, before the two leaders came out of the Cosatu building, a war of words erupted between Maimane and three other men who refused to identify themselves, only saying they were "Cosatu leaders".

Maimane had asked them to call Vavi to come and receive the memorandum.

But the request fell on deaf ears as the three repeatedly yelled: "You are provoking us! Voetsek, go and talk to the government, go to Parliament."

Dlamini later told Cosatu members: "... all we can say is, thank you for defending this house. No one will ever think of coming to piss here".

Vavi said: "(Zille) is stripped naked. Everywhere, everyone will know the difference between uncompromising principled positions of the working class and (those) of the DA.

"I don't need a wife, I have a very beautiful wife. I am already married, we are not up for the takers. We are married to the ANC. We are married to the SACP and we are married to the Freedom Charter."

A block away, Zille addressed her members who had retreated, accusing the African National Congress of not caring for the people.

Alternating between isiXhosa and English, she said: "You put us here (in government) and you gave us power. We proposed the youth wage subsidy, President (Jacob) Zuma said 'yes' and put aside R5-billion, and Cosatu says 'no'. Who elected Cosatu (into government?)."

During her address, stones and all sorts of objects continued to rain, forcing her to take cover.

Meanwhile, a Democratic Alliance T-shirt was torched by Cosatu members during the union's picket at the party's offices in Mount Edgecombe, north of Durban, yesterday.

A handful of Cosatu members, including the union's provincial secretary Zet Luzipho and South African Democratic Teachers' Union provincial secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi, gathered outside Fairways.

They sang anti-Zille songs.

Democratic Alliance provincial youth chairman Nathaniel Bricknell emerged, argued with the protesters and then threw a DA T-shirt at them. They tore it into pieces before burning it.