After much criticism on their silence and failure to participate in previous public demonstrations against state capture and corruption, the Congress of the South African Trade Unions and its affiliates finally came out to make their voices heard.
After much criticism on their silence and failure to participate in previous public demonstrations against state capture and corruption, the Congress of the South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and its affiliates finally came out to make their voices heard.
On the 27th of September 2017 with placards reading Zuma Must Go, they painted the streets of Johannesburg red as they marched to key government and private sector institutions.
Among their demands was the immediate appointment of the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, as called for by the Public Protector’s report, A State of Capture. The march organisers were unequivocal that the timing of the march cannot be questioned.
“Cosatu is an autonomous organisation like all other organisations. We’ve got our own decisions on any action [that] happened over a particular time. Other organisations decided much earlier to march on the same issue. We couldn’t. But today we are doing it,” said Nkosana Dolopi, Deputy Gauteng Secretary from the South African Democratic Teachers Union.
Jacob Mamabolo, South African Communist Party (SACP) Chair in Gauteng echoed the same sentiments that the time and the political space in the history of the country requires urgent action against state capture and the corruption which affects workers and the poor more than any other class. Mamabolo said there was no issue about the timing of the march.
Detractors have said that the general strike by Cosatu against state capture and corruption cannot be understood apart from the factional battles wracking the African Nation Congress (ANC) and which threaten to derail the party’s elective conference later this year. The leaders of the Johannesburg march denied this and said it is a baseless conspiracy theory aimed to derail workers from their legitimate concerns over white monopoly capital, labour brokers and exploitation.
“I don’t think these workers are so stupid to come out in their numbers on a narrow thing as to who will be elected in the ANC in December,” said Blade Nzimande, General Secretary of the SACP. “This is not about an individual but to save the country from further degeneration,” agreed Dumisani Dakile, Cosatu’s Gauteng Secretary. However there were others who appeared unapologetic and firm on their choice that the time for Cyril Ramaphosa to lead the country and the ANC has come.
The SACP further reiterated their resolution taken from their previous conference that they may contest the 2019 national elections but this process will be determine wholly by the workers. “The SACP is a working class movement. We encourage you to engage on this issue,” Nzimande said.
As the sun set on the march, the workers vowed to continue marching if their demands are not met. “This is not the end,” concluded Dakile.