A crowd of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) members on Monday picketed at the Brazilian Embassy in Pretoria against the “unfair and unjustified” imprisonment of former Brazilian president Inacio ‘Lula’ da Silva.
“The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa is joining millions of comrades across the globe today [Monday], to demonstrate against the erosion of basic democratic principles and the persecution of political activists in Brazil, and in particular, the persecution of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva,” according to the Numsa memorandum read outside the embassy in Pretoria by Thabo Mogoroe, a regional deputy chairperson of the union.
“We have observed the continuous and brutal attack on democracy and the violation of the rule of law in Brazil, which is escalating at an alarming rate on a daily basis. These attacks and the growing political violence and impunity have led to the murder of popular Rio de Janeiro city counsellor Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes earlier this year. Until today, no one has been arrested or prosecuted for their brutal execution.”
The Numsa memorandum was addressed to the Brazilian ambassador to South Africa, Nedilson Jorge.
The labour body accused “the illegitimate government of [President] Michel Temer” of worsening the living conditions of the working class in Brazil.
The union lambasted Temer’s government for “interfering over the autonomy of universities and extinguishing fundamental rights and violating freedom of association for workers and the hard-won rights of trade unions” in Brazil.
Lula, as the charismatic two-time president is affectionately referred to by his legion of fans, is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption.
Numsa claims Da Silva is the latest victim of arbitrary and brutal acts against popular political activists who have been pursued by the government of Temer for more than a year now.
“The case is based on evidence provided by a convicted criminal, who was himself convicted of corruption.”
Numsa said it believed the judicial system in Brazil “has been captured and politicised”.
The Numsa memorandum was handed over to Fernando Arruda, the secretary of the Brazilian mission.