President Jacob Zuma File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Johannesburg - The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) on Saturday called on African National Congress MPs to have the courage to vote for what they know is right, regardless of whether the vote is open or secret in the August 8 National Assembly debate on the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.  

"If Zuma survives, it will be a disaster not only for South Africa, but for the ANC itself, which will be condemned as a party which condones and defends corrupt criminals," Saftu said in a statement.

Saftu joined the millions of angry South Africans demanding that parliament pass the motion of no confidence in Zuma on August 8. 

"Zuma, his cabinet, and his cronies have forfeited any right to hold any office as the evidence mounts daily of their crimes which have plunged the country into by far the biggest crisis since the end of apartheid. Their record is outrageous," Saftu said. 

Among other things, they had "stolen billions of rand in corrupt and illegal transactions, masterminded by the Gupta family, who had bribed a network of ministers, public servants, state-owned enterprise executives, and private businesses to channel pubic funds into their pockets".

"We see so many new revelations every day that it is impossible to calculate just how much has been looted, but it is clearly an enormous amount," Saftu said.

Ministers and civil servants had been replaced with compliant stooges who used their position to facilitate corruption and channel funds into the Guptas’ accounts and get rid of any who refused to co-operate.

Constitutional structures such as the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Agency (NPA), and the secret service agencies, which were supposed to be independent, had been subverted to block any legal action against any of the corrupt network and to threaten and spy on whistleblowers and anyone who stood in their way. The whole country had been turned into a mafia-style lawless kleptocracy in which the rule of law and democratic accountability were dead letters.

State-owned enterprises such as Eskom, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), South African Airways (SAA) and many others had been bankrupted by bribing officials to pay out billions "to Gupta-linked front companies who got paid for delivering useless goods and services, or for doing nothing at all, and then laundering the money into a bank account". This had directly affected the workers, consumers, and the whole economy which they were supposed to serve, Saftu said.

Further, they had transformed the ANC from being the leader of a national liberation struggle into a a cringing apologist for a corrupt leadership and betrayed all the ANC’s principles of democracy and accountability and a bias towards the workers and the poor by pursuing neoliberal, capitalist economic polices which had led to a deep economic crisis of mass unemployment, poverty, and inequality, made even worse by the removal of non-compliant ministers which was used as a pretext for credit ratings agencies to relegate the economy to junk status and drive South Africa into an even worse economic catastrophe. 

"The ANC leaders in parliament are desperately trying to herd their MPs into voting against the motion. Saftu appeals to them to have the courage to vote for what they know is right, regardless of whether the vote is open or secret. They should not have to hide behind secrecy. They are voting for the future of both the country and their own party. They must vote not for the ANC stolen by Zuma and the Guptas, but the ANC they joined, the ANC that voters cast their votes for and above all for the democratic and progressive principles which their leaders have spat on. 

"This applies even more to the South African Communist Party. When its leaders wore their SACP hats they roundly condemned corruption, called for those guilty to be dealt with, and demanded Zuma’s resignation, but these would be seen as empty rhetoric if their members in parliament and government voted against the motion of no confidence," Saftu said.