Reports The Guardian: “South Africa‘s president, Jacob Zuma, is facing one of the biggest tests of his presidency as tens of thousands of striking workers took to the streets and relations with his union backers neared breaking point.
“There were demands for Zuma, who was thousands of miles away at the World Expo in Shanghai during a state visit to China, to return home as cities were paralysed by marching public sector workers.
“The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) warned that its historic alliance with Zuma’s governing African National Congress (ANC) had reached a critical low.
“Zwelinzima Vavi, secretary general of Cosatu, said government corruption had derailed the alliance’s agenda. ‘The emergence of a ‘new tendency’ focused on taking over the ANC and using access to the state for a selfish accumulation agenda disrupted the emerging unity of purpose, which has led to a paralysis in both the alliance and government,’ he said.
“Vavi recently told an angry crowd demonstrating over low pay that Zuma earns more than R2.2m (£193,000) a year.’ ‘He has blood like we have blood,’ he said. ‘He has a big family like we do. He has children to feed like we do. Our needs are the same.’
“Cosatu, which says it has 2m members, has warned of a “total shutdown” of the South African economy next week if the government does not meet its demand for an 8.6% wage rise and 1,000 rand (£88) monthly housing allowance.
“Cosatu said it had filed seven-day strike notices for members to join the state workers in a stoppage that would then hit mining and manufacturing. Police and army medics could also join in, bringing the country to a standstill.”