The federation was instrumental in Zuma ascending to the presidency in 2009. It, however, turned against him following his Cabinet reshuffle in March. It banned him from attending or speaking at its events.
Cosatu first deputy president Tyotyo James said Cosatu would continue its campaign for Zuma to step down.
The trade union federation said the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture should not be limited to the Gupta family’s alleged influence on the executive and state-owned enterprises. It should extend to before 1994 and include the government of national unity, led by former president Nelson Mandela.
“We should know who has been getting tenders at Eskom over so many decades. Apart from the Guptas, how many other families have been getting tenders from Eskom, Denel, SAA?” Dlamini asked.
It was an undeniable fact that the state, including Treasury, had long been captured, he said.
Ntshalintshali said rumours about underhand deals and looting of the state on the eve of the democratic dispensation could not be ignored.
Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela investigated the Gupta family’s alleged undue influence on government. They allegedly offered some ANC leaders ministerial jobs, in exchange for their businesses getting favourable treatment and government tenders.
She recommended that a judicial inquiry, led by a judge, investigate these allegations. Zuma had taken the report on review, arguing that Mandonsela overstepped her powers.
He said that only the president had the power to institute an inquiry and appoint a judge to head it.
COSATU: PRASA corruption contributes to poor train services in WC
The trade union federation’s provincial officials believe alleged corruption at the rail operator is contributing towards its failure to supply reliable train services.
Provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich says: “Prasa’s providing a horrendous transport service to its members. The trains are in a bad shape. The service providers are lying to commuters when there are no trains available and they’re overcharging people for tickets when there are no seats on the trains available for the tickets they’ve sold.”
JOBURG – As Cosatu is planning to hold what is dubbed the mother of all marches, Mayor says they must direct their grievances to the Gupta home as all corruption starts there.
Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said if Cosatu is against corruption, they must march to the Gupta home.
As Cosatu will be embarking on a national strike on 27 September to protest against state capture and corruption, City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba has a very short message for the trade union, ‘Go protest at the headquarters of corruption, Saxonwold’.
National spokesperson of Cosatu Sizwe Pamla said their first stop will actually be at the City’s headquaters, the Metro Centre in Braamfontein. According to Pamla, they will drop a memorandum of demands to the Mayor’s office where, among other things, they will be demanding that free basic water is given back to the working class. He said they also want to address the issue of unfair suspensions on workers by the City and what he claimed is employment discrimination within the City.
In a statement, Mashaba said Cosatu and its affiliates should be applauding the City not marching against it, as it has made strides in fighting things that Cosatu claim to be against, like labour broking. The mayor mentioned that bringing the Jozi@Work programme to an end was one such bold and decisive step his administration took.
“The Jozi@Work programme was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, benefitting only the middlemen who were awarded multimillion-rand contracts to run projects.
For a trade union which is against labour brokers, it is ironic that Cosatu would support the Jozi@Work programme, which is essentially run by brokers,” reads Mashaba’s statement.
The mayor also highlighted how his administration is fighting daily to deal with corruption within the City.
On the issue of free basic water, Mashaba said it was part of the City’s commitment to care for the poorest residents. “We have committed to providing free basic water to residents on the City’s indigent list. Depending on household income, our poorest residents will receive up to a maximum of 15 kilolitres of free water per household, per month in line with the City’s Expanded Social Package Policy,” Mashaba said in a statement, adding that it was bizarre that Cosatu seeks to protect the interest of society’s elite.
“If Cosatu and its affiliates are determined to fight corruption, they must first take this fight to where corruption is planned, at Saxonwold,” Mashaba said in a statement.
Zuma under fire as unions turn up heat on corruption
Johannesburg – South Africa’s biggest labour organisation urged workers to strike on Wednesday to protest against what it called “the cancer of corruption” spreading among business and government leaders and threatening the nation’s democracy under President Jacob Zuma.
The action is the boldest step yet by the Congress of South African Trade Unions to pile pressure on Zuma, whom it helped to win control of the ruling African National Congress in 2007 and then turned against after he fired Pravin Gordhan as finance minister in March. That move prompted S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings to downgrade the nation’s credit assessment to junk.
“This strike is about sending a message to both government and private sector that as workers and citizens we are tired of corruption,” Bheki Ntshalintshali, general secretary of the 1.7-million-member Cosatu, told reporters in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
At least 13 protests will be staged across the nine provinces, with demonstrators voicing their grievances and bringing criminal charges against corrupt officials, the confederation said.
The labour action will place further pressure on Africa’s most industrialised economy, which the central bank expects to expand 0.6% this year. It may also further dent business confidence, which fell to its lowest level in more than three decades last month.
The strike has the support of the South African Communist Party, which like Cosatu is a member of the country’s ANC-led ruling coalition. The protesters aim to show Zuma, who’s been implicated in a succession of scandals, that they want him to quit, according to Solly Mapaila, the party’s deputy secretary.
“He is at the centre of this corruption that is taking place in government,” Mapaila said. “He is the buffer, the main protector, the main distributor, the main person who makes it possible.”
Zuma has faced almost daily reports of new details on his friendship with the Gupta family and its alleged influence over his administration which is known locally as “state capture”.
The scandal has affected global companies such as accountants KPMG and consultancy McKinsey, which have been implicated in facilitating, being party to or turning a blind eye to their deals. Public relations firm Bell Pottinger collapsed after it was found to have mounted a racially divisive campaign while working for the Guptas. Zuma and the Guptas deny wrongdoing.
Business Unity South Africa urged employers to allow workers to participate in the protest on a no-work, no-pay basis and said they can’t be dismissed for taking part unless they’re employed in essential services.
“Busa is not endorsing protest action by Cosatu, although it supports the call against state capture and corruption,” Tanya Cohen, the business lobby group’s chief executive officer, said by email.
Cosatu rolls out its mass protest action plan for Wednesday
Cosatu says it’s ready for its nationwide strike to be held on Wednesday. The federation is billing the demonstrations as a game-changer in the fight against corruption while critics claim Cosatu won’t target those who have captured the state. By Greg Nicolson.
SACP Deputy Secretary General Solly Mapaila said on Monday that Cosatu’s nationwide strike will permanently change the country as the labour movement is clearly coming out to express its disgust with corruption and state capture. “It’s not just another march where we just march tomorrow and that’s it,” he said, claiming it will begin a rolling programme of mass action.
Cosatu, supported by the SACP, will hold 13 marches across the country on Wednesday against corruption. It will lead marches in all major cities and deliver memoranda to state and private institutions. Workers wanting to participate in the strike are protected from facing any consequences at their workplaces after Nedlac issued a section 77 certificate covering the event.
“This strike is about sending a message to both government and the private sector that as workers and citizens we are tired of corruption,” said Cosatu General Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali at a media briefing on Tuesday. “We are standing up tomorrow against the cancer of corruption that is eroding our gains and also undermining our democracy.
“Corruption has become endemic under this administration,” he said of President Jacob Zuma’s government. Mapaila said Zuma was an “elite predator”. “He has been the buffer, the main protector, the main distributor.”
Cosatu’s statement specifically criticised Finance Minster Malusi Gigaba’s alleged attempt to use funds from the PIC to support struggling state-owned entities, allegations of corruption against the Gupta family, illicit financial flows, scandals at auditor KPMG, as well as the leadership of Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.
“Our martyrs did not sacrifice their lives so that greed and corruption can replace our freedom,” said Ntshalintshali. Cosatu is calling for a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture. “The time to reclaim the electoral mandate we gave to the ANC is now.” Cosatu’s second deputy president Zingiswa Losi called on workers to unite behind the strike regardless of which union, sector or federation they were affiliated to. She also called on civil society and ANC members to attend.
Both Cosatu and the SACP have called for President Zuma to resign. Divisions over the ANC leader have led to a breakdown in relations within the ruling alliance. The ANC has failed to hold alliance meetings with its partners and recent attempts to hold discussions have been postponed. Zuma has been barred from addressing Cosatu and SACP events. The labour federation has publicly backed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma as leader of the ANC.
Finding common ground in the fight against corruption, Business Unity SA (Busa) and Business Leadership SA (BLSA) have announced their support for Cosatu’s mass demonstrations.
The strike has been criticised by the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), led by former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and dominated by the country’s biggest trade union, former Cosatu affiliate the National Union of Metalworkers SA (Numsa). “There is no principle being pursued by the leaders of Cosatu,” said Vavi, “if anything this strike is about maintaining the status quo – which is class exploitation.”
In response, Cosatu affiliate the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said Saftu and its leaders remained obsessed with the country’s largest labour federation. “We view this malicious attack as yet another failed attempt to scandalously cast doubt among workers and usurp their trust for their personal ends, but most importantly, we are still awaiting to hear exactly what it is they are doing for workers besides gossiping about Cosatu,” said Popcru.
The protest action has also been criticised by Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba, who said Cosatu should march to the Gupta family’s residence in Saxonwold rather than to institutions like the City of Johannesburg.
Cosatu was weakened by the expulsions of Numsa and Vavi and the march, while ostensibly about corruption, will be an indicator of whether the federation has been able to regain its strength and unify members.
#CosatuStrike: Leaders rally crowds for countrywide anti-corruption protests
Mass anti-state capture protests across the country got off to a slow and staggered start in Johannesburg and Cape Town this morning, with Cosatu and the SACP failing – at least initially – to draw expected numbers. By Rebecca Davis, Orateng Lepodise, Bheki C Simelane and Puseletso Nthate.
South African Communist Party and Cosatu leaders rallied this morning to gather the crowds for 13 anti-corruption marches scheduled across the country.
In Cape Town, crowds failed to materialise in the numbers previously predicted by Cosatu provincial leadership.
Some marchers were delayed in their arrival by, ironically, the train system they were travelling to protest against. Outside Cape Town’s central train station, Cosatu Western Cape boss Tony Ehrenreich delivered a memorandum of demands to a Metrorail representative. Among them: half-price train tickets, more buses and taxis to service the Cape Flats and townships, and a proper public transport system in rural areas.
“Down with Zuma down!” shouted a crowd led by leaders from Cosatu and the South African Communist Party, including deputy Secretary General Jeremy Cronin. “Up with Ramaphosa up!”
A Cosatu supporter at the march said that countrywide, they would easily draw 100,000 protesters.
In Johannesburg by lunch time, around 5000 members had gathered for the strike against state capture. First stop: City of Johannesburg offices. Marchers say they are tired of President Jacob Zuma and corruption.
The strike got off to a slow start outside Cosatu house. As the numbers swelled the march proceeded to the City of Johannesburg Municipal offices.
“I am here today because I am tired of corruption and our President. He is failing us as a nation. It is time he stepped down (to) allow Ramaphosa to clean the mess he has created,” said Thembisile Sikade, a 38-year-old who works at New Vaal Colliery.
In the list of their demands to Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba the party wanted: access to water and electricity; for the city to review reports from KPMG and for the city to stop working with KPMG; and for workers who were suspended or retrenched to be reinstated.
“I am ready for Ramaphosa to step in now, we are tired of Zuma and his dodgy ways it’s time he gives us back our country,” said Tyra Fortuin, a 29-year-old worker from Helen Joseph Hospital.
From the City of Johannesburg offices the march was due to proceed to FNB Bank City, the Gauteng premier’s office and the Chamber of Mines where protesters were due to deliver further memorandums on corruption and state capture.
Protesters hold placards reading “Zuma Must Go” and “Away with the Gupta’s and associates.” Outside the municipal offices they sang: “We are ready for Ramaphosa.”
The march started at about 11.20am, just over an hour behind schedule. One marshal said the reason for the delay was because members kept arriving. Thousands lined the streets of Braamfontein, propelled by song.
SACP General Secretary and higher education Minister Blade Nzimande was among union and SACP leaders who later addressed the crowds.
Makro workers who have been on strike for about a week now also took part.
But asked why they were on strike, one Makro employee gave a one word answer in an angry tone, “wages”, then “We want better wages”. Mshiya Mkhize, 24, also a Makro employee, says he wants a pay rise at work.
“We Mashaba lemini iyeza nakuwe, siyakuthandazela: We Malema lemini iyeza nakuwe, siyakuthandazela.” Translated, the song says the day is coming Mashaba. The day is coming Malema.
The message of the workers in this song is quite clear. They are declaring their support for Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa — who Cosatu have made it clear they want as the next president of the ANC.
Some of the slogans blasted from one of the Cosatu trucks included: “Leave Guptas,” “Down with Zuma” and “down with corruption”, “we are ready for Ramaphosa. On your marks, get ready, we are ready for Ramaphosa”.
One Sadtu member who refused to be named said: “We are tired of corruption. We are tired of Jacob Zuma. We have been supportive of Zuma but he’s taking workers for granted. We been in the struggle for far too long to watch ANC sink. Wewant him to step down.”
The Cosatu strike comes at a time when the country is plagued by corruption by some of the country’s leaders, including President Zuma.
Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba was on his way to Braamfontein to receive Cosatu’s memorandum.
“Those who are messing up our city are here now. If Mashaba doesn’t respond, we are back here,” a Cosatu member said.
Mbali Mlaba, 24, a General Assistant at the Helen Joseph Hospital, said she was there to lend her hand in fighting corruption. “We supported him, but he has totally failed to repay our faith in him-choosing the Guptas instead. I want Zuma to step down.”
As the federation, along with the SACP, further confronts the corruption exacerbated under Zuma’s government, the future of the tripartite alliance hangs in the balance.