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African National Congress deputy president Kgalema Motlamthe addressed about 5,000 trade unionists celebrating May Day in Vereeniging, a small community south of Johannesburg.

Motlamthe, who is set to rise to a cabinet post in the South African government next week, spoke of a recent court ruling to make pre-paid water meters illegal and the seven-week old municipal workers’ strike in Lesedi.

Members of CUPE’s South African sister unions, the South African Municipal Workers’ Union and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union, were a strong presence at the event.

The Vereeniging rally was one of one of dozens organized by the Congress of South African Trade Unions across the country under the theme, “Defend democratic gains - Fight unemployment! Crush poverty and inequalities - Create decent work now!”

“South Africa May Day was made a public holiday in recognition of the role workers played in the struggle to defeat apartheid, and it continues to be the day for workers to celebrate their victories and rededicate themselves to overcome the many challenges which still face us,” COSATU said in its May Day statement.