Johannesburg – The Democratic Alliance said on Monday that it would march to Cosatu House, in Johannesburg, even though the Johannesburg metro police said earlier this would not be allowed.
The Johannesburg metro police had told the media that marchers would not be allowed to proceed to the Congress of South African Trade Unions’ headquarters, but “hasn’t sent any formal documentation to the DA”, said spokesperson Mmusi Maimane.
“We will proceed with the original plan and the original route,” he said.
Earlier, metro police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the Democratic Alliance would be allowed to march in downtown Johannesburg on Tuesday, but not to Cosatu House.
Instead, the march would end on the lawns of the Johannesburg Civic Theatre.
He said the route had been changed after a “security assessment”.
Cosatu and its affiliates had called the march provocative and there have been threats of confrontation, with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa threatening to “swamp the streets outside Cosatu House”.
“It was decided that the route would be changed so that speeches are done at a neutral venue,” said Minnaar. “They (the DA) won’t be allowed near Cosatu House,” he said.
On Monday night, DA leader Helen Zille posted a message on Twitter indicating that the march would go ahead as planned.
“DA march is ON tomorrow. Mischievous reports on SABC radio saying march cancelled are WRONG. See you tomorrow! #fb”
Zille is to lead the march with Maimane, DA youth leader Makashule Gana and the party’s parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko.
Minnaar said around 3 000 marchers were expected to converge at Beyers Naude Square.
According to him, the march would start at 11am and would proceed along President, Rissik, Jeppe, Sauer, Burger, Jorissen, Melle and Simmonds streets.
The DA said it was marching about job losses.
“The march is to protest against the trade (union) federation’s continued opposition to the youth wage subsidy, a policy that could create an estimated 423 000 jobs for young, unemployed South Africans,” said spokesperson Kelly Miller.
She said Cosatu had become a stumbling block to job creation.
The ANC and Cosatu have urged the DA not to march.
“Cosatu calls upon the DA to reconsider its decision to march to Cosatu House tomorrow,” said spokesperson Patrick Craven.
“There is no way this march will make any contribution to solving the problem of youth unemployment, which they claim to be so concerned about, and they will certainly not convince workers to agree with their phony solution of a youth wage subsidy.”
African National Congress spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said the decision to march was “ill-informed and opportunistic”.
“If the DA has any view regarding the issues of labour brokers and youth wage subsidy, our contention is that they must engage with Cosatu rather than being confrontational and provocative,” he said in a statement.
“The only way, in our view, that any of the parties can influence one another and even influence government around these matters is through meaningful engagement.”
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and its affiliates said the march was informed “by the provocative, deceitful and cheap political blackmail from the chief representatives of white monopoly capital and apartheid apologists the DA”.
Numsa said it would be joined by the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union, the Communication Workers’ Union, the Progressive Youth Alliance, the ANC Youth League, the Young Communist League and the South African Students’ Congress.
In a statement, Numsa spokesperson Castro Ngobese said the DA was trying to coerce the ANC-led government, particularly its ally Cosatu, to agree to the neo-liberal proposal of a youth wage subsidy.
He said the subsidy would create a two-tier labour system which would result in a flood of retrenchments as major factories favoured youth wages