THOUSANDS walked out across South Africa yesterday in a general strike against job losses and corruption, including at the highest levels of government.
The strike, called by union federation Cosatu four weeks earlier, drew large crowds in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Limpopo province’s capital Polokwane.
Cosatu said that “this strike is about sending a message to both government and the private sector that, as workers and citizens, we are tired of corruption.”
Workers were “standing up … against the cancer of corruption that is eroding our gains and also undermining our democracy.”
The march comes after months of revelations and accusations of corruption in government — particularly what is known as “state capture” and the amount of influence wielded over President Jacob Zuma by the billionaire Gupta family.
It is alleged that the Guptas have had sway over government policy and ministerial positions.
It has rocked the alliance between the ruling ANC, Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP), which has called for Mr Zuma to resign. The SACP expressed full support for people striking yesterday, saying that workers should unite to “drive out the parasites from all the key levers of public power that they have gained access to.”
Both the SACP and Cosatu called for a stepping-up of efforts against the capitalist economy.
“We cannot fight corruption and state capture if we do not acknowledge that the capitalist system itself is a deeply corrupted system,” Cosatu said.
“The government’s neoliberal policies have weakened the state and allowed the private sector to be in charge of policy formulation.”
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said South Africans were “tired of slavery wages.”
The banner of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) was also on display at the Johannesburg march.
The organisation sent solidarity greetings, stating: “We trust that the common initiatives of the SACP and Cosatu will bring a better future to the workers and people of South Africa.
“We call all the militant classoriented trade union organisations in South Africa to mobilise the workers to intensify their struggles for the benefits of the South African people.”