Striking workers in Cape Town delivered what they called “a present” to President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday — calling on the State to stop dragging its feet in establishing a judicial inquiry into state capture.
Some of the city centre’s busiest streets were turned into a sea of red as members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) protested against state capture and corruption.
The most prominent placard on display read: “Zuma must go”.
“We didn’t fight apartheid to replace a white devil with a black devil,” Cosatu Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said while addressing the crowd at Parliament where a memorandum was handed over to representatives of the national legislature and big business in the Western Cape.
In the memorandum, Cosatu demanded, among others, that Zuma immediately set a date to establish a judicial inquiry into state capture.
“The state and state institutions must refuse to deal with the predatory elite, and in particular cancel all commercial dealings with the Gupta family with immediately effect,” the memorandum said.
In addition, the Asset Forfeiture Unit should seize all the assets of the Guptas because Cosatu did not believe the “enormous” resources accumulated by the family — who are close allies of Zuma — were legitimately secured.
Deputy Public Works Minister, who relinquished his position as South African Communist Party (SACP) first deputy general secretary, Jeremy Cronin joined protesters.
He told workers some R27 billion rand was being looted per year from the State — money which could have been used to create 75,000 jobs.
“People are making lots of money but the services are getting worse and worse,” said Cronin.
Cronin and other leaders made it clear that they would fight tooth-and-nail to prevent government from using state pensions to bail out struggling state-owned companies.
Earlier, the protesters also visited the provincial legislature, calling on Premier Helen Zille to immediately address violence in schools.
South African Democratic Teachers’ Union provincial secretary Jonovan Rustin said 60 teachers were assaulted in Western Cape schools in the first three months of this year.
“Our learners are being killed in schools, our teachers are being assaulted,” he said.
Referring to allegations that Zille applied pressure on officials to help her son’s business receive 150 new tablets from the provincial government, Rustin said: “Zille and Zuma are exactly the same.”
Metrorail was also not spared during the protest as workers made their way to the Cape Town train station to protest the dismal failure of the state-owned entity to transport workers to and from work.
“We want the bosses of Metrorail to go to jail for endangering our lives,” Ehrenreich said while handing over a memorandum of demands to Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker.
Ehrenreich said Cosatu was demanding at least three security guards on every carriage, while it also wants Metrorail to slash their prices in half to compensate workers who often have to pay for alternative transport when trains don’t arrive on time or are too full to board.
The march to Metrorail formed part of a wider countrywide protest against corruption and state capture.