The march, organised by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), saw political parties such as the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the Congress of the People (Cope) and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) join the march, along with watchdog organisation Corruption Watch, the Right2Know campaign, various religious groups and civil organisations.
The march is protected in line with Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act, guaranteeing no disciplinary action against employees who take time off work to march. At the provincial legislature, Numsa secretary Irvin Jim said South Africans had achieved political freedom, but not economic freedom. He said his union would form a trade union federation and a workers’ political party because other political and labour formations had failed.
“This is now an independent union and it will not be converted into a political party, it will instead be a catalyst for workers,” he said to cheering marchers.
“They think we are joking in mobilising workers to build a new federation and a new political party to stand up for the working class.”
Numsa was expelled from trade union federation the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) earlier this year for bringing the federation into disrepute. In the memorandum, the marchers demanded that Treasury compile names of all state entities and departments that do not procure from local businesses as required by policy.
They also called on the SA Revenue Service and the SA Financial Intelligence Centre to investigate illicit financial flows out of the country, transfer pricing and money laundering. They demanded the strengthening of the offices of the public protector and that of the auditor-general.
“The trick of trying to push for the merger of the public protector’s office and the Human Rights Commission being cooked by Speaker of parliament Baleka Mbete, using the Kader Asmal 2007 report, should be resisted,” read the memorandum. Public Enterprises official Mzwandile Radebe received the memorandum on behalf of government.