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Here’s why Saftu plans to picket outside Sona

SA Federation of Trade Unions general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. File image
SA Federation of Trade Unions general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. File image

SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says the federation will picket outside the Cape Town city hall during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address (Sona) on Thursday. 

Ramaphosa is expected to outline government’s plans for the year, reflect on and account for programmes set out in the previous Sona and respond to social, political and economic issues.

The Sona, which will cost South Africans about R4m, will take place in the city hall after a fire ripped through the National Assembly building in the parliamentary precinct last month.

According to Vavi, the picket is to “expose” Ramaphosa for not fulfilling promises such as creating jobs for the youth. 

“An honest president would admit that Sona being delivered in the city hall is a statement of how fast things are falling apart under his party leadership.

“No parliament, SAA, SA Express, Denel, with Eskom on its last breath in the ICU and society in crisis.” 

Among other things, Saftu is calling for Ramaphosa to implement a R1,500 basic income grant, fix rail lines and tell ministers not to cut public services for the poor. 

“We must practise revolutionary democracy in every aspect of our party life. Every responsible member must have the courage of his responsibilities, exacting from others a proper respect for his work and properly respecting the work of others,” said Vavi.

This is not the first time Saftu has called for implementation of a R1,500 basic income grant. 

Addressing media at the Cry of the Xcluded conference last year, Vavi said the basic income grant should be R1,500 to meet the immediate living needs of the unemployed. 

“People are starving and without food. To end this, the state should look to progressively introduce an unconditional universal basic income grant. We need a basic income for 18 to 59 year olds who are without a stable income.

“This grant would boost the economy, creating demand for products and services, thus creating many jobs. Government must focus on attracting the people back into the economy instead of just foreign investors.”

With the local government elections done, the pots of the unemployed remain empty and money put aside for local government was being slashed, Vavi said.

“With even less money provided to local governments by the national government, municipalities will be forced to increase rates, water and electricity tariffs. More people will be excluded, service delivery will get worse and we get closer and closer to a climate change disaster.”

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