PORT ELIZABETH, May 1 – Workers gathered at the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) May Day rally walked out as the federation’s President Sdumo Dlamini delivered his address at the Isaac Wolfson Stadium in Nelson Mandela Bay on Tuesday.
Dlamini delivered the closing address and at the time hundreds in attendance started trickling out of the stadium.
He acknowledged the crowds leaving saying they could do so, as many of the issues he would raise had already been touched on by leaders who spoke before him.
Dlamini said Cosatu remained a formidable force in representing the voiceless, the workers and the poor in the country.
“I don’t mind about liars, I’m not going to spend my breath trying to correct liars when new leadership behind me have said it all. All I want to say is that let’s keep going on. Let us stay focused and not be detracted by those who wish they were born yesterday when they were born just now.”
In his support for the implementation of the national minimum wage, Dlamini said it would bring relief to those who earned below the threshold.
“Our workers who’ve been excluded by being paid peanuts and some who earn less than R1,000 a month will indeed see an increase of over R2,500 in their pockets when this national minimum wage is introduced.”
Dlamini also spoke out against infighting among the federation’s affiliates.
“Let us stop the peddling of fights amongst ourselves which is meaningless. Lets us ask our leaders that these unions belong to the workers not for the leaders. It is the unions that are established by members and they belong to members. We can unite and work together to ensure this federation is stronger than yesterday,” he said.
Earlier this year, Dlamini became embroiled in a scandal and denied reports that he received a R300,000 bribe from an abalone dealer.
According to reports, Dlamini said he did not understand why reports had emerged claiming he took a kick-back.
At the time, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (known as the Hawks) confirmed that they were investigating the bribery allegations. According to the City Press newspaper, the Cosatu president was paid R300,000 by an abalone dealer for his part in arranging a meeting with former president Jacob Zuma.
Zuma is alleged to have received R1 million from the dealer as an attempt to persuade him not to fire Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana.