Workers should defend the country from corruption and looting or risk a coup d'état, says SACP leader Blade Nzimande. File picture: GCIS

Port Elizabeth - Workers should defend the country from corruption and looting or risk a coup d'état, said SACP leader Blade Nzimande. 

Nzimande said the country had come from a dark period of widespread looting by the controversial Gupta family who “captured” the State.

He was speaking at the May Day rally hosted by Cosatu in Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday.

The Gupta family have faced numerous allegations of corruption involving State-owned enterprises. Law enforcement officials have been building up criminal cases around the family in an attempt to recoup millions of rand.

Nzimande said the family should be made to pay back the money they “stole”.

“We had a coup d'état in South Africa. People were given the right to steal from the country. Our country is not for sale. We say defend this country. We say workers must defend this country. They are leaving this country, they must bring back the money they have taken away,” he said. 

Nzimande also mentioned the corruption allegations that have affected the North West Province, which centres around its Premier Supra Mahumapelo. He applauded the work done by the SACP and Nehawu in the province to try and expose the corruption.

“We have stood up in the North West against corruption and some change is beginning to happen. We are glad there is light at the end of the day. That there are some changes happening. If we do not protect the country it will be gone. Some are in the movement because they think they can "eat" not because they are here to serve the country,” said Nzimande.

He also hit back at some forces in the KwaZulu-Natal ANC that were pushing back against work being done to rebuild the party. He said ANC members in the province should not allow that to happen.  

Nzimande’s last remark were left for the one-year old federation Saftu, which is being led by former Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi.

He said it was worrying seeing Saftu holding a march that was also used as tool to attack other unions.

“We need a broad working-class unity. You cannot have a worker federation that goes on a strike and attacks other unions. We should not divide ourselves. We should not act opportunistic about the minimum wage. You cannot say it is all or nothing. R3500 is not a living wage, but at least workers are going to get a huge relief through the minimum wage,” he said.

Political Bureau