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May Day: Political parties compete for power

Today marks International Workers' Day with celebrations being held all over the world.

South African ruling party African National Congress supporters cheer during Labour Day celebrations at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane during an event organized by the African National Congress, the Confederation of the South African Union and the South African Comunist Party on May 1, 2014 in Polokwane, South Africa. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Political leaders have used May Day rallies across the country to canvass for votes, attack other political parties and promise the electorate a better future for all.

Today marks International Workers Day with celebrations being held all over the world.

The main message from the ANC and its alliance partners have been for the trade union to unite and vote for the ANC next week.

In Polokwane, President Jacob Zuma has told thousands gathered at the Peter Mokaba Stadium that mining companies must start paying their employees decent wages.

He also lashed out at the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) for its failure to resolve the three month long wage dispute which has cost the country billions of rands in revenue.

Zuma says miners have lived in inhumane conditions for far too long.

"The mining sector must accelerate its advance towards the achievement of the objectives set out in the mining charter. The time has come that the conditions in the mines must change."

He also directed his message towards the agricultural sector.

"The agricultural sector must also speedily attend to the plight of farmworkers who still grapple with issues such as security of tenure, illegal evictions from the farms."

Meanwhile in Ekurhuleni the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the ANC have told thousands of Gauteng workers that "now is not the time for division."

The SACP's Jeremy Cronin has acknowledged the working class is going into the general elections divided, adding the polls came at a critical time.

"It is not a time for the working class to be fighting itself and to be divided and factionalised within it's own ranks."

The ANC's Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte has called on workers to defend the ANC and it's alliance partners.

"The attack on our movement will continue as we continue to unhinge what apartheid had dished out."

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa ( Numsa), Cosatu's largest union has decided not to actively campaign for the ruling party ahead of next week's elections and has been conspicuous in its absence from today's rallies.

Speculation is still rife surrounding the possibility of a split in the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) after the elections.

Just three weeks ago it appeared Cosatu was preparing to finally expel Numsa after it withdrew its support for the ANC, but that decision was put on hold.

Labour analyst Terry Bale says these divisions are around a fundamental economic issue.

What government is promoting is economic growth leading to redistribution. The other approach is the idea of redistribution, in other words spread the wealth more widely and that leads to growth, and that's the point the unions have taken."

Cosatu is also facing more pressure from the mining union Amcu.