Two million South African workers were set to stage a general strike on Thursday of this week, in support of 1.3 million public sector workers who have been striking for more than a fortnight.
Mzwandile Makwayiba is one of the leaders of South Africa’s biggest and most militant public sector union, Nehawu. He spoke to Socialist Worker about the strike
“In South Africa there are two kinds of people—those with money and those without. Those without are the vast majority.
Unaffordable housing, poverty wages and sky-high inflation are crippling workers.
We are struggling to survive—that is why we are on strike. I was a hospital worker and I know how difficult conditions are. In the Gauteng province [Johannesburg] alone we need an additional 6,000 nurses.
The government paints a picture of strikers as selfish. But it is the working class that is suffering—it is our hospitals and schools that are underfunded. That is why workers are prepared to come out in solidarity with us on Thursday.
We had a strike in 2007 and we were worried that workers could not afford to strike again, but this year it has been even more effective.
As workers we know we only have two weapons—our unity, which we must not allow to be splintered, and our ability to fight.
I would say to workers in Britain: our fight is your fight. We are fighting a global battle against neoliberalism, against the bosses who want to force us to pay for their crisis.
If we are prepared to fight hard, and we stand united, we can win.”