Cosatu and the SACP embarked on a nationwide protest on Wednesday to “shut down the country”, calling for President Jacob Zuma’s resignation and an end to corruption and state capture.
Protests took place in 13 major metros across the country’s nine provinces, with the major march in Johannesburg where members gathered at the Cosatu headquarters.
The trade union federation’s general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said that the march aimed to raise awareness around the impact of state capture and corruption.
“People should not look at state capture and corruption as something that does not affect you. It affects all of us in our daily life.
“We’ve been told that we’re losing about R29bn per annum, which if converted to jobs we would have been cutting about 76 000 jobs per annum.
“[We] need to stand up before it is too late. The call here is that the president, because he is failing the society, he has no legitimacy to remain the state president. He must resign,” Ntshalintshali said.
Protesters marched to various locations in the Johannesburg CBD to hand over memorandums of their demands.
Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba did not come out to receive the memorandum and it was instead signed by Member of the Mayoral Council (MMC) for Public Safety, Michael Sun.
Cosatu called Mashaba a “coward” for not coming out to address them, saying that he was “too scared to come to the workers”.
Referring to the previous administration’s Jozi At Work programme which Mashaba scrapped, the federation accused him of being responsible for many job losses and called for him to step down from office.
On Monday, Mashaba dismissed the march to his office and said it “fails to [go] to the headquarters of state capture, Saxonwold, at the Gupta residence”.
Addressing protesters at FNB Bank City, SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande said that state-owned entities, particularly Eskom and South African Airways, had been plunged into crisis and that “the march should not end here”, but must head to Eskom as well. “The power of the working class must not be forgotten,” he said.
Nzimande added that the strike was not against the ANC but about what is wrong within the organisation itself.
“This is not a strike against the democratic government, but a strike about what is wrong in our government. We will not keep quiet while our movement is being stolen,” he said.
The march moved to Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s office where he signed the memorandum and said he would make sure it reached the president.
Makhura called for an end to corruption and added that although some entities were captured, he himself had not been captured.
“Corruption is something that we must defeat and we must fight it together side-by-side without hesitation.
“I am not captured and neither is the Gauteng government. We are not apologists of corruption,” he said.
The march concluded at the Chamber of Mines where they accused the mining industry employers’ organisation of also being captured.
“It’s not just the Guptas who have captured the state, you the Chamber of Mines have captured the state too,” said National Union of Mineworkers’ Peter Bailey.
Bailey added that it was unacceptable that black people die in the mines and “it’s business as usual” for the organisation.
He called for the mining industry to put an end to job shedding, adding that they were giving the organisation 14 days to respond.