Fire Lynne Brown before State of the Nation address, says Cosatu

Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.(Photo: Netwerk24)
Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.(Photo: Netwerk24)

Johannesburg - The Congress of South African Trade Unions said on Sunday that Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown must be fired before the State of the Nation address in February 2018. 

“What’s happening at Eskom is pure, pure daylight robbery, the minister dealing with Eskom should have been gone already”, Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali told Fin24 on the sidelines of the conference at Nasrec.

In response to a request for comment, Brown's spokesperson Colin Cruywagen said Cosatu was entitled to its opinion and the minister serves at the behest of the president.

Ntshalintshali said that several other ministers should also be fired, including Minister of Water Affairs Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane and Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini.

“Anyone who is involved, who has been named in the Gupta emails, needs to account, they take it lightly, the pronouncements they make, even the attack on the judiciary, for a minister, who takes an oath to protect the constitution,” said Ntshalintshali

The State of the Nation address will take place on February 8 next year. 

Corruption

Ntshalintshali said the trade union federation was concerned about the role of auditing firms in facilitating private sector corruption, but he added that progress was being made by the Competition Commission in combatting private sector graft.

He said that, whole organised labour 'expects' suspicious transactions and murky deals to take place in the private sector, there was“no excuse for corruption in government using public money.

Speaking after a business breakfast earlier on Sunday, meanwhile, Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies said that he was concerned about fraud in both the public and private spheres.

“We need to deal with corruption wherever it’s found… the more that there is corruption, the more it means there is a detraction from our ability to change the structure of our economy," said Davies. 

Outgoing ANC president Jacob Zuma on Saturday morning said that theft and corruption in the private sector was just as bad as it is in government, when he opened the party's national elective conference.

READ: Private sector theft just as bad as government theft - Zuma

Fee free higher education

Ntshalintshali  also slammed the way President Jacob Zuma on Saturday announced on Saturday free higher education for most SA tertiary students in 2018.

Zuma said that TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) and university fees for all students coming from households earning under R350 000 per annum would be paid by the state. 

“Treasury says we’re in a deficit, so [It’s] good message but without giving the details and how the money will be there, [it] seems to be empty promises”, said Ntshalintshali.

He also questioned what will happen in 2018 when students arrive at universities, based on the president’s promise.

“So how we manage it moving forward, it can turn out to be a crisis, people can say they’re not going back to school unless they get this money refuse to go back to school”, he added.

Treasury, meanwhile, in a short statement Saturday simply said it "notes the announcement" by Zuma and was reviewing funding proposals, without giving further details. 

Zuma political report

Ntshalintshali expressed disappointment with Zuma’s political report delivered on Saturday, where he criticised Cosatu and the South African Communist Party for calling on him to step down.

“If he’s going to be remembered for his last speech, [he] will be remembered for dressing down other alliance partners… people still remember what OR Tambo said when he stepped down.”

He said Cosatu believes the president didn’t talk strongly enough about the state of the economy and corruption in his final speech as ANC president, saying this was a ‘lost opportunity”.

“He should have raised those issues in his last address to say corruption has no place in SA”, said Ntshalintshali
Cosatu has repeatedly called for Zuma to step down, following his cabinet reshuffle in March and for Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to replace him.

The ANC is expected to announce its new leader on either Sunday night or on Monday morning. 

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