The African National Congress (ANC)-led government was moving too slowly to fight corruption, the Congress of SA Trade Union (Cosatu) said on Wednesday.
“We are losing patience … The ANC in government is moving slowly,” said general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.
He was speaking to thousands of National Education Health and Allied Union (Nehawu) members in Mahikeng, North West, during their national day of strike action.
The union embarked on a march demanding better working conditions; improved salaries; and a stop to corruption.
Union members gave the interministerial task team 24 hours to respond to their memorandum, or they would shut down the North West province and lead public servants on a two-day stayaway.
A sea of red chanted near the North West government buildings where they handed over a memorandum to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
Ntshalintshali said corruption allegations were rife in North West, and those accused of corruption refused to step down to enable investigations to continue freely.
Nehawu members working at the North West department of health have been on strike for three months and those working in the social department have been on strike for four months.
Nehawu president Mzwandile Makwayiba said the union would continue to fight until they were heard.
“We have the money, the energy and time. We are ready to fight,” he said to the applause of union members.
He said the union had problems with the health departments in all nine provinces.
Receiving the memorandum, Motsoaledi said corruption allegations would be probed, and those found to have done wrong would be dealt with accordingly.
“We are not going to tolerate corruption. There is no question that those of us who are corrupt, whether they belong to my own party the ANC … those who steal from the poor, those who steal from the sick … they must face the full might of the law,” he said.
Motsoaledi said he would hand over the memorandum to the interministerial team headed by Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as the memorandum touched on various government departments, including the office of the premier.
Nehawu strikes have rendered hospitals incapable of rendering services to the extent that the SA National Defence Force was deployed to the Mahikeng Provincial Hospital to restore health services at the hospital.
SA Communist Party North West provincial secretary Madoda Sambatha told the workers they had a right to strike, and it did not mean they were striking against the ANC government.
“You are not striking against the ANC; you are striking against the employer; in this case, it is the government,” he said.
He said they were not calling for the removal of North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo because of a personal vendetta.
“We will call for the removal of any premier if he or she is accused of corruption.”
– African News Agency (ANA)