May Day: Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi, left, President Cyril Ramaphosa and SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande at the Workers' Day celebration in Durban at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont, May 1 2019. Picture: THULI DLAMINI
May Day: Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi, left, President Cyril Ramaphosa and SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande at the Workers' Day celebration in Durban at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont, May 1 2019. Picture: THULI DLAMINI

With exactly a week to go to the May 8 elections, President Cyril Ramaphosa took advantage of the the May Day star rally organised by Cosatu in KwaZulu-Natal to woo voters.

Ramaphosa described next week’s elections as “critical” and urged the governing party’s supporters to go out in their numbers and vote.

A recent poll by the the SA Institute for Race Relations (IRR) showed that the ANC could be in trouble, with its majority dropping to 49.5%. However, when modeled on a 71% turnout of voters on May 8, a scenario considered plausible as not everyone will vote, the ANC reaches 51%. 

The IRR’s poll varied enormously from that conducted by market research agency Ipsos, which showed that the ANC stood at 56.9%. The Ipsos poll also found that the governing party could get 61% if there is a 71% turnout.

Ramaphosa told workers that the ANC’s alliance, which Cosatu was part of, was going to present a governing alliance which was prepared to take SA forward and grow the country.

He said it was the workers who produced the wealth in the country and yet they had been denied the opportunity to share in the riches.

“It is from the sweat of your brow that our economy turns,” he said. “Our country would not be able to work, or even move an inch if you [the workers] were not around. Our country rests on your shoulders, our country is in your hands … you are the one that makes our country work.”

Cosatu was the first organisation to endorse Ramaphosa’s bid for the presidency of the ANC ahead of its 2017 Nasrec conference, and has been campaigning for a strong mandate for the president ahead of the 2019 elections.

Ramaphosa praised Cosatu for its participation in the job summit he held earlier in 2019 , saying that the trade union federation had helped identify areas where more jobs could be created and that those ideas were being implemented.

He also said the R300bn that was pledged by companies at an investment conference would be utilised to create more jobs so that “we can swell the ranks of the employed workers”, who would hopefully join unions, specifically Cosatu affiliates.

Ramaphosa also touched on the issues at Eskom. Cosatu has been outspoken about possible job losses and restructuring at the ailing power utility.

The president told workers that the government was cleaning out the rot at Eskom, saying those who were responsible would be held accountable.

“Now we are in repair mode, [and] we are going to make sure we reposition Eskom so it continues to play an important role as [a] key generator of energy in our country and we are working with unions in Eskom to make sure that the solutions we are working on do finally become the solutions that are going to be durable going forward,” he said.  

quintalg@businesslive.co.za