National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) president Andrew Chirwa says President Jacob Zuma is a criminal like jailed Paralympian Oscar Pistorius.
In his opening address at Numsa’s 12th national congress in Cape Town on Monday, he said many workers regretted supporting Zuma’s election as ANC president in Polokwane in 2007.
“We regret that we put Zuma there, he has failed the test with distinction. Zuma is a criminal, we don’t need him. He is no different to Oscar Pistorius, who is in jail,” Chirwa said.
He reiterated Numsa’s earlier position that Zuma must step down over the Nkandla debacle, adding that there was no difference between Zuma and his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa.
“The only difference between them is that one is captured by monopoly capital, while the other is captured by the Guptas,” said Chirwa.
“We are ashamed that a workers’ federation such as Cosatu is calling for Ramaphosa to be elected as the next president.”
The Numsa leader said the 1994 political settlement had failed black South Africans because they were still poor and jobless. Twenty-two years on, blacks still have no land and have no access to agricultural activities, while the wealth of the country is still concentrated in the hands of a few white male capitalists.
Referring to the Marikana massacre in August 2012, Chirwa described Ramaphosa as the “worst butcher”. Ramaphosa was chairperson of a Lonmin platinum mine that was involved in a labour dispute with workers in 2012 that ended with police killing striking mineworkers.
He said Numsa decided to move out of the tripartite alliance.
“We are not going back, we are not going to mourn our dismissal from Cosatu. We will celebrate the formation of a new workers’ federation in South Africa soon.”
Moves are afoot by Numsa and former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to set up a new trade union federation that will mainly comprise unions outside Cosatu. Cosatu’s food and farming affiliate, the Food and Allied Workers’ Union, which has resolved to leave Cosatu, is likely to join the new union body.
Chirwa also condemned Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande for failing to come up with a solution to students’ demand for free higher education.
He said their demand was legitimate but Nzimande had not responded well to their needs. He said while it was expected of him to at least provide a solution as a communist leader, Nzimande and the SA Communist Party (SACP) had failed dismally to come to the party.
“The SACP has lost its socialist revolutionary character,” Chirwa said.