Angry workers Sunday forced South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa from delivering his Labour Day speech in the northwestern Rustenburg city.
Striking mineworkers from the Sibanye Still-Water gold mines, who were demanding a pay rise of 1,000 South African rands ($63) stormed the podium where Ramaphosa was due to address workers disrupting the event.
“You want your 1,000 rands, I understand that. You want the employers to give you 1,000 rands. We have heard that message and we will be dealing with that matter,” Ramaphosa told the workers who seemed unsatisfied with his explanation.
The workers then became rowdy, booing and shouting: “Ramaphosa must go.”
They have been expecting Ramaphosa and his Cabinet to intervene in their strike that has been ongoing for weeks.
The presidential guards were later seen whisking Ramaphosa away from the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
Earlier, trade unions and opposition parties said there was little to celebrate Labor Day as retrenchments and unemployment is now at a staggering level of 35%.
The main opposition party, Democratic Alliance, called on the government to create a conducive environment that allows job creation because millions are unemployed.
“As South Africa celebrates Workers Day today to honor workers across our country, there will be no celebrations for the tens of millions of South Africans that do not have a job,” the party said on its website.
It also said entire communities are moving closer to or below the poverty line as jobs are shed and local economies shrink.
The government said it has created a conducive environment for job creation, such as incentives to businesses, but the pandemic and sluggish economic growth are responsible for slowing job creation.