South Africa 30.8.2015 01:47 pm

Domestic workers cheer Malema in Alexandra

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema. File Picture: Michel Bega

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema. File Picture: Michel Bega

There was jubilation on Sunday afternoon at San Kopano Community Centre in Alexandra, north of Joburg, as hundreds of people exploded into a frenzy when Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema arrived.

Malema walked into the centre at about 1pm flanked by other  EFF leaders, including national chairperson Dali Mpofu. He was expected to address the crowd on the problems faced by the domestic workers.

The Department of Labour’s sectoral determination prescribed that the minimum wage for domestic workers in area A (those in major metropolitan areas is) should be R2 065.47 per month from December 1 2014. It further prescribed a monthly minimum wage of R1812.57 for area B (those not covered by area A).

The EFF, through its 2014 election manifesto, promised to hike the domestic workers’ minimum wage to R4500 a month across the board, if it was elected to power. However, many domestic workers at the event told The Citizen they were earning far less than what the government recommended.

Despite their wage worries, the crowd danced to the sounds of music blaring from the speakers on stage while still waiting for Malema. They included men and women women who appeared to be in their 50s. Many other young and old people flocked to the venue and waited outside, listening to the music. Others were selling EFF-branded paraphernalia including berets and T-shirts.

Gauteng EFF caucus leader Mandisa Mashego, who was among the party officials, said the current South Africa’s economic conditions “made it possible” for employers to pay their domestic workers R4500 per month.

“You cannot sacrifice the livelihood of your worker for the sake of your comfort,” said Mashego.

Domestic worker Magdalene Manamela said: “I work in Sandton for a rich family but I earn little money. I hope Malema will help us earn what we deserve.”

The EFF gathering came two days after a group of other domestic workers gathered at the Constitutional Hill, Braamfontein, and pleaded with the government to stop what they called exploitation they were experiencing. Some said they were being underpaid and not registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

– warren@citizen.co.za

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