Stayaway Day

The hot topic on everyone’s lips at the moment is the Gauteng e-tolls and the threat of mass civil disobedience. For those of us living down in the Western Cape, where we don’t do tolls (except for one tunnel and one “scenic road”), this is of limited interest, save for individuals who are utilising the fuss for political aims.

One group who are particularly vocal in their opposition to e-tolling are Cosatu. They represent over 2 million workers across SA and they are a politically active organisation as well, so it makes sense for them to be involved. But their latest call to arms and their threat to mobilise their members in “the mother of all protests against the act of highway robbery” have awakened the cynic in me (who only ever dozes lightly anyway).

Here’s their plan:

Cosatu is planning several rallies, marches, demonstrations and night vigils at the offices of the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and the transport department across the country from April 23.

These would lead up to a large “national stay-away or socio-economic strike” on April 30.

Monday, April 30th hey? That seems like the ideal time to do this, since that’s when the e-tolling is due to start (although it seems likely to be postponed amidst the current chaos). But there’s something else about Monday April 30th that we should note: namely that it is the only working day between Thursday 26th April and Wednesday 2nd May.

Yep, if you take into account the public holidays on 27th April and 1st May (and who wouldn’t?) then adding 30th April as a “stayaway day” means that you get a 5-day weekend.

How very convenient.

I predict further mass action in June when Zwelinzima Vavi et al work out that Youth Day is on a Saturday this year and will therefore not attract a day off work.

On the plus side (because there’s always a plus side), this e-tolling row could turn out to be the great unifying event South Africa has been crying out for. Mandela might not have to die. Unfortunately, recent worldwide events have suggested that great unifying events have generally not been great when the incumbent government in on the other side.

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