Freedom Day | It's not yet Uhuru for masses

27 April 2018 - 09:50
By Sowetan Says
The South African Federation of Trade Unions hit the streets as part of a nationwide strike on Wednesday April 25 2018 in an effort to raise concerns over a proposed R20 per hour minimum wage.
The South African Federation of Trade Unions hit the streets as part of a nationwide strike on Wednesday April 25 2018 in an effort to raise concerns over a proposed R20 per hour minimum wage.

Today we are celebrating Freedom Day.

This is an important day, a milestone in the history of our nation, especially those who understand where we come from.

It is a day that gave birth to a democratic South Africa, with promises of a better future.

Twenty-four years later, some of the promises made by the government have become just a dream, while the decisions made over time have only helped to make those affected unhappy.

This is why we witnessed a nationwide strike yesterday by the workers affiliated to the South African Federation of Trade Unions, who marched to demand a higher minimum wage.

The workers are opposed to the R20-per-hour rate and the R3 500 minimum living wage that was championed by President Cyril Ramaphosa while he was still deputy president.

This is a stance that has put trade union federation Cosatu and Ramaphosa in a tight spot, while raising the level of unhappiness of other unions not affiliated to the governing party.

The workers are instead demanding a R12 500 minimum living wage, reminiscent of the Marikana mineworkers' call in 2012 for the same amount.

Although the private sector was the target of the workers at Marikana, this demand was silenced by the guns, leading to the deaths of 34 protesters with more than 70 others injured.

Since taking over as president, Ramaphosa has promised to deliver land to black people, a move that has ruffled the feathers of the opposition, white civil groups and property owners.

The president has also prioritised the improvement of service delivery by making sure corruption is dealt with harshly.

Ramaphosa, who has only been in office for three months, needs more time to attend to all the ills facing his government, so that South Africans can truly enjoy the freedom that we will be celebrating tomorrow. At the moment, freedom eludes us all as the government seeks to put out the fires engulfing the nation.

Can the president implement the new deal he has been preaching since climbing to the high office?

A new deal that will result in black people owning land, and working for decent minimum living wages? Time will tell.