RUSTENBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa was forced to abandon his Labor Day speech after miners booed him and stormed the stage.
Ramaphosa was due to deliver a keynote speech at the Cosatu rally in Rustenburg, in the northwest, but had to be taken away when angry workers protested and demanded him to leave.
One of their main concerns was a demand for an annual salary increase of R1,000 for gold miners in Sibanye-Stillwater.
The workers went on a three-month strike after the mine rejected their demand, instead offering an annual raise of R800, which is being refused.
The angry workers said they could not allow Ramaphosa to speak to them until he addressed their pay issues, which they said he was aware of.
The Cosatu rally was delayed for more than five hours as the union federation struggled to fill seats at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
It was not until the protesting workers arrived that the program began, but quickly became chaotic as Ramaphosa prepared to take the stage.
Ramaphosa and Cosatu President Zingiswa Losi attempted to address the crowd, but their attempts proved futile as the workers did not hear of it.
Chants of “You must go” echoed through the stadium as workers drowned out his voice.
“We heard you,” Ramaphosa said.
Then, as the chant got louder, he said, “OK, it’s okay. So listen, OK, I heard you.
The workers continued to sing as they made their way to the stage.
Ramaphosa said his request for a R1,000 raise had been heard and was being considered. But the workers did not hear about it.
Ramaphosa was then dumped and taken to a police nyala, who then took the car.
Immediately afterwards, workers took the stage and began to sing and dance.