Ace Magashule calls on members to join workers' fight against VAT hike

Jeff Radebe and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule during the May Day celebration at Bophelong in Vanderbijlpark /Veli Nhlapo
Jeff Radebe and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule during the May Day celebration at Bophelong in Vanderbijlpark /Veli Nhlapo

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has called on party members to join workers when they protest against the increase in value-added tax.

The VAT increase was announced in February by then finance minister Malusi
Gigaba to raise additional revenue in order to meet the budget shortfall. The move was criticised as it would impact heavily on ordinary citizens.

Magashule's remarks are a clear contradiction to the position of the ANC-led government moreover as he is the custodian of the party.

"We must walk the talk. ANC branches on the ground must join the workers when the workers fight against VAT. SACP and Cosatu have raised this issue of VAT," Magashule said during the May Day rally in Vanderbijlpark yesterday.

This comes at the time trade unions are gearing up for a fight following the increase of VAT from 14% to 15% with
effect from last month. The move will see consumers paying more for all goods except certain food items such as maize meal. Following Gigaba's announcement, the government said it was considering to add more basic goods to the list of zero-rated foodstuffs as an attempt to mitigate the impact of the hike on the poor.

Cosatu Gauteng secretary Dumisani Dakile agreed with Magashule, saying: "We agree with him on this one. He is quite correct. You can't remove ANC members from community issues. ANC members are still affected by the hardships."

Magashule was joined by ANC Gauteng acting chairman David Makhura, SACP national chairman Senzeni Zokwana, ANC national executive committee member Jeff Radebe and Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali at the rally.

Magashule also called for unity between the ANC's alliance partners - Cosatu and the SACP - ahead of next year's general elections.

Relations between the partners became strained after Cosatu and the SACP called on former president Jacob
Zuma to step down. Cosatu and the SACP appear to have softened their stance following the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president in December.

Magashule hinted that unity was possible. "We must revive the alliance. We must build the unity and cohesion as a
banner of Cosatu today in
defence of the revolution. When Cosatu emerged in 1985 as a federation we said we want one country one federation.

"If we want [steel and mining company] Arcelor Mittal to be nationalised, we can't do so if we are not united. We must make sure as the
workers have said we must nationalise the Reserve Bank."

He focused his speech on the expropriation of land without compensation and the proposed R20-an-hour national minimum living wage.

Ntshalintshali said: "The ANC must deliver... It is payback time. We are asking for jobs and the end of corruption. The ANC must ban labour brokers because it is in power."

Makhura announced that the Gauteng government has decided to officially declare Cosatu's first president Elijah Barayi's grave a heritage site.

"We never forget workers who fought for the national liberation in this country."

Makhura said there would be no service delivery if workers were not recognised.

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