South African president Cyril Ramaphosa abandoned his Workers’ Day address after chaos broke out in Rustenburg. File photo.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi
President Cyril Ramaphosa was forced to abandon his Workers’ Day address after mining workers booed him and stormed the stage.
Ramaphosa was scheduled to give a keynote address at the Cosatu rally in Rustenburg, North West, but had to be whisked away as angry workers staged a protest and demanded he leave.
Among their chief concerns was a demand for a R1,000 annual salary increase for Sibanye-Stillwater gold mine workers.
The workers have been on a three-month-long strike after the mine rejected their demand and instead offered an R800 annual increase, which is being rejected.
The disgruntled workers said they could not allow Ramaphosa to address them until he dealt with their salary concerns, which they said he knew about.
The Cosatu rally was delayed by more than five hours as the labour federation struggled to fill seats at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
It was not until the protesting workers arrived that the programme began but soon turned chaotic as Ramaphosa was preparing to take the stage.
Ramaphosa and Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi tried to address the crowd but their attempts proved futile as workers would hear none of it.
Chants of “you must go” reverberated through the stadium as workers drowned out his voice.
“We have heard you,” Ramaphosa said.
As the chanting got louder, he then said: “OK that’s fine. Listen then, OK I have heard you.”
The workers continued to chant as they pushed their way towards the stage.
Ramaphosa said their demand for a R1,000 increase had been heard and would be addressed. But the workers would hear none of it.
Ramaphosa was then whisked away and taken to a police nyala, which then drove away.
Immediately after this, workers descended on the stage and started singing and dancing.
Business Day reported last week that NUM and Amcu members had rejected the recent offer by Sibanye and demanded a R1,000 annual increase in line with Harmony Gold.
Amcu national treasurer Jimmy Gama told Business Day on Tuesday: “We held mass meetings over the weekend, and the final one was held at the Beatrix Mine in the Free State on Monday. Our members rejected the offer. They are adamant that they want a R1,000 increase, a R100 increase in living-out allowance, and a 6% wage increase for miners, artisans and officials.”