Former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. File picture: Nokuthula Mbatha

Pretoria - Former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was at Nissan’s assembly plant in Pretoria North on Friday, urging workers to participate in an anti-corruption march planned for next week.

“We are mobilising workers, so we are coming here to get workers ready, to let them know where the transport is going to be and to (make them) understand that they have to make a sacrifice of one day’s salary in order to support a bigger struggle to save the future of South Africa,” he told reporters outside the auto-manufacturer’s plant.

“Without us tackling the crisis of corruption, which is so directly linked to three other challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality which South Africa is facing, this country will lose its direction and will be stolen by the most powerful in the political circles who have no interest whatsoever on the ordinary interests of our people but their interests are on themselves and their families.”

Vavi said he was “quite happy” with the responses he was getting during the mass mobilisation drive, ahead of the marches set to hit the streets of Pretoria and Cape Town on September 30.

“We are now five days before the march. The country is vibrating. We have unbelievable numbers of endorsements for the march. We have established the biggest coalition seen in this country – last seen in this country in the days of the United Democratic Front. We are quite happy with that,” he said.

“We are ready to march, come Wednesday next week we will be occupying Pretoria and Cape Town. We will be saying government has a primary responsibility to stop corruption in the private sector, to stop private companies from taking billions and billions of rands through what they call illicit outflows to other countries. We need that money so desperately.”

He said protesters will also be urging government to take action against “private sector practices such as the price transfer into their tax havens all over the world because we need taxes”. He said everyone in South Africa should be contributing to the national fiscus through tax.

“Above all, government must stop corruption inside government. The Institute of Internal Auditors report tells us that we have lost R700 billion in the last 20 years. This falls squarely on the shoulders of government to take responsibility,” Vavi said.

“We will be knocking at their door and by the way, this is not a once off action. This is the beginning of a people’s movement across the races, classes and other divisions. We do need our government to be on top of its game when it comes to the crisis of corruption. It must root out corruption.”

He said South Africans must understand that they are “not a hopeless, helpless crowd” that can do nothing the current state of affairs. Vavi said “a few politically connected hyenas” were stealing a bright future from the rest of the South African populace.

“Let’s reclaim our power from those who are actively destroying the future of our children,” said Vavi.

He said the marches – to be led by civic society – would start a direct engagement with government on pertinent issues, including the protection of whistle-blowers and respect for the office of the Public Protector which was facing “frontal attacks”.