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South Africans march in mass protest at toll roads

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by BabuK, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. BabuK

    BabuK JF-Expert Member

    Mar 7, 2012
    Joined: Jul 30, 2008
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    South Africans are marching in a day of mass protest over new tolls on roads between Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria.
    A BBC reporter in Johannesburg says thousands are on the streets, in scenes reminiscent of anti-apartheid rallies.
    The Cosatu labour federation says the proposed system will hurt the poor.


    The protests are also directed against the practice of labour brokering - when agencies hire workers on short-term contracts.
    The marches - organised by Cosatu (Congress of South African Trade Unions) - are happening in 32 towns and cities across South Africa.
    Cosatu says it expects as many as 100,000 people to join in nationwide.
    Sea of redThe BBC's Milton Nkosi in Johannesburg says the streets of Johannesburg are a sea of red - the colour of Cosatu
    It is one of the biggest marches in recent years, and looks like the mass demonstrations against the apartheid system during the 1980s and 1990s, our correspondent says.
    Cosatu is flexing its muscles, he adds, and showing the ruling African National Congress (ANC) that although the two are allies, the union federation independently enjoys a great deal of support among South Africa's workers.
    "The tolls will put a burden on the poor," Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi told reporters ahead of the marches.
    "We're saying to the government, we remain open to talk to you. Call us, we will come running to find a resolution," he added.
    The government upgraded existing motorways in and around Johannesburg for the 2010 football World Cup.
    It says the work was not free, and it now wants the electronic tolling system to retrospectively finance these wide and smooth roads.
    The introduction of the tolls has already been delayed several times, after companies warned the fees would raise the cost of doing business.
    Cosatu also wants to see the end of the system of labour brokering - which, it says, means workers get paid low wages and are not entitled to full employment benefits, such as maternity leave.
    Our correspondent says Cosatu estimates nearly 1 million people in South Africa are employed through brokers.