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Cosatu thugs have trampled on pillars of our democracy

The Times Editorial | 2012-05-16 00:59:32.0

The Times Editorial: South Africans might wish to question why the Democratic Alliance embarked on a march to the headquarters of Cosatu in Johannesburg - they can do so for as much and as long as they can.

So, too, can we debate whether the march for the youth wage subsidy - proposed by the government and held up at the National Economic Development and Labour Council - was essentially part of the party's strategy to garner grassroots support.

This is, after all, the nature of South African politics.

But what does definitely matter - and what is utterly inexcusable - is the uncontrolled and violent manner in which Cosatu's members behaved.

DA members, wearing their blue T-shirts, had marched from Beyers Naude Square in Johannesburg's city centre with discipline.

But when the crowd outside Cosatu House saw them approaching - even though it was ordered that a 50m no-go area be maintained - the union members ran amok.

Throwing stones and attacking DA marchers and journalists speaks of an utter disrespect for democratic processes in this country.

It also speaks of a lack of understanding that uncouth, crass and violent opposition should have no place in South Africa.

The DA's right to march was approved by the correct authorities, but Cosatu did not seek permission to venture from its office.

Clearly this is not the message that Cosatu relayed to its membership, resulting in several people being injured, including a photographer from The Times.

Personalising its opposition to the DA's march - by brandishing posters with extremely crude messages directed at party leader Helen Zille - also shows an innate disrespect.

Cosatu did itself no favours yesterday, particularly having played such an effective role in campaigning against e-tolling and the implementation of the Protection of State Information Bill.

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