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Second Day Of SAF Strike Marred By Threats

The second and final day of an anti-privatization strike called by South African trade unions was marred by threats against senior government officials and disputes between the unions and the government.

Though the first day of the strike passed relatively quietly, the second day was marred by threats against senior government officials. In Pretoria, a crowd of eight thousand prevented Public Services Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi from speaking. They kept yelling that she should "hamba, hamba", or go away, go away.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions, which has a membership of 1.8 million, says that an unprecedented 70 percent of the country's workforce observed the strike on Thursday. But public and private sector employers say this is nonsense and absenteeism ranged between two percent and 30 percent.

Public transportation was available in urban centers - although the number of trains and busses was reduced on some routes. Government departments in all centers remained open. Private employers say that economic activity was not severely affected.

There were marches and rallies in large cities and small towns countrywide. In Durban, where the World Conference Against Racism is underway, about ten thousand marchers further disrupted a city that is already straining from the influx of thousands of delegates, support staff, members of the media and protesters.

The union is protesting government plans to privatize some $15 billion in South African state assets. The government says its privatization policy is non-negotiable.