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Mon Jul 06 01:14:41 SAST 2015

ANC needs to take heed of Cosatu's real concerns

The Times Editorial | 29 January, 2013 01:01

The Times Editorial: The Mangaung honeymoon is over and it's back to business. The ANC's major alliance partner, labour federation Cosatu, yesterday said it would intensify its campaign against e-tolls and would take its fight against the proposed electricity tariff increases by Eskom onto the streets.

Cosatu has vowed to ''occupy the highways'' from next month to scupper the SA National Roads Agency's plans to start e-tolling on Gauteng's freeways.

The federation has threatened to mobilise ''all progressive forces'' for mass demonstrations which, it hopes, will derail Eskom's proposal that it be allowed to increase electricity tariffs by an average of 16% a year for the next five years.

These two issues - e-tolling and increases in the power price - give the labour giant the opportunity to grow its support base by mobilising middle-class South Africans alongside their working class peers.

E-tolling has been bitterly resisted by motorists across the political spectrum, and is now the subject of yet another court challenge.

There is also growing public anger directed at Eskom, which was granted permission to raise its tariffs significantly for the past three years in the wake of a sustained load-shedding debacle.

Reports that average salaries at the parastatal are in excess of R600 000 a year are likely to raise temperatures even further.

Perceptions that ordinary South Africans, already overburdened by a plethora of administered-price increases, and by food-price inflation, are being milked by an unresponsive, uncaring ruling elite are taking root - and the resentment is beginning to transcend traditional race and class barriers.

If not adequately dealt with, such issues are likely to become fundamental contentions in next year's general election.

For this reason alone, the government would be advised to listen to the concerns of its alliance partner.

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