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SAFTU not an EFF ally, says Vavi, despite participating in Monday’s shutdown

SAFTU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and other workers' organisations addressed media ahead of Monday's 'National Shutdown'.

SAFTU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and other workers’ organisations addressed media ahead of Monday’s ‘National Shutdown’.

  • Zwelinzima Vavi said Monday’s shutdown belonged to SAFTU and not the EFF.
  • He said the EFF opened the call but that the unions were the driving force behind it.
  • Vavi said SAFTU and the EFF were not allies, but comrades in arms.

Zwelinzima Vavi says Monday’s shutdown belongs to the SA Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) and other workers’ unions, and not the EFF.

The SAFTU general-secretary held a press briefing on Friday to give an update on the national protest which was announced by EFF leader Julius Malema on 29 January.

Vavi said the union was “not joining, but participating” in the event, where the EFF is demanding an end to load shedding and for President Cyril Ramaphosa to step down.

SAFTU has added 14 of its own demands, including an end to load shedding, but they are not calling for the president to step down.

Vavi said the union erred in the past by believing that replacing one ANC president with another ANC president would solve the country’s problems, “but the workers still suffer”.

He added “for now”, he was not affiliated with any political party.

He said:

We are not allies with the EFF. [I’m] not a member of any political party for now – I have my own reason why I won’t join [a political party] – for now.

“This [shutdown] is not an attempt to form an alliance with the EFF, PAC, Azapo etc., but we are comrades in arms pursuing the same struggle [as with] all who identify themselves with the cause of the workers.”

Vavi said workers were struggling under the present political movement “captured by capitalism”.  

“There are lots [of things that] we don’t agree with the EFF. Surely, they have issues they don’t agree with us [on]. We are emphasising unity with all the left-leaning who have workers’ rights in mind – not the briefcase NGOs [though]. The 20th is ours, not the EFF’s – they made the call, but the call resonated with us,” he added.

He said there would be protest action in each township, village, informal settlement and suburb where SAFTU has organisational capacity.

Vavi said:

There is no plan. We’ve urged that in each area [there is] a kind of protest – we’re asking other working-class formations, political formations and other supporters to find one another… and you will stage a peaceful protest.

“This is not going to be business as usual, there will be no march [nor] memorandum. We’ve submitted memorandum after memorandum, crying that we were starving to death for the past 29 years.”

Vavi said the shutdown would be peaceful and anyone who threw stones, set off petrol bombs or damaged property or infrastructure was “not one of us”.

He added the message they wanted to send was they were not barbarians.

Meanwhile on Friday morning, Police Minister Bheki Cele told officers during a parade in Mayfair, Johannesburg, they should apply minimum force with transgressors, but show bravery when dealing with those who break the law during the protest. 

“You have the right to fill prisons. All police trucks must be on standby to load those who break the law.

“Police vans must be full. If there is no space, continue arresting them. They must sleep standing. Ensure the law takes its course and the law doesn’t retreat. We will see later if they eat, drink or bathe.”



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