Thousands of workers took to the streets and marched in 13 towns across South Africa in support of a national strike against state capture and corruption on 27 September. The strike, which was a protected strike in terms of the law, was called by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). IndustriALL affiliates the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union, National Union of Mineworkers, and the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union took part in the strike.
State capture refers to the corrupt involvement of business interests in government affairs. The Gupta family was singled out by a report by then public protector Thuli Madonsela as being involved in the appointment of ministers, and in the awarding of government tenders. COSATU, which is demanding a judiciary commission of enquiry into state capture, argued that corruption threatened the socioeconomic rights of workers. Further, it undermined “the constitutional and developmental state that seeks to address the plight of the poor and the workers.”
A Cosatu pamphlet read:
“State capture and the cancer of corruption are immoral and criminal acts, which rob the people of South Africa of their livelihoods, steal their resources, cause job losses and perpetuates poverty.”
In Johannesburg, petitions were given to the City of Johannesburg, banks and the financial sector, and the Chamber of Mines, where retrenchments were condemned. Unions vowed to continue their fight against the closure of five coal-powered power stations. This showed that government’s renewable energy policy was not promoting a Just Transition, but sacrificing jobs. Promoting independent power producers from the renewable energy sector was privatizing the state-owned power company, ESKOM.
The scandal involving the Guptas has dragged in and tarnished the images of international companies, including Bell Pottinger and KPMG.
Fabian Nkomo, regional secretary for IndustriALL Sub Saharan Africa, said:
“We applaud South African workers for standing up against state capture and corruption. Neo-liberal policies that promoted taking away jobs and the control of state-owned companies by private interests should be resisted by workers.”