Cosatu has warned that Durban would come to a standstill when its membership in KwaZulu-Natal took to the streets on Wednesday to protest against state capture, corruption and job losses.
The trade union federation was bent on sending a clear message to the ANC about toeing the alliance line in the race to succeed Jacob Zuma as the party’s next leader.
And Cosatu has resorted to using rolling mass action to make its presence felt, as they did during Thabo Mbeki’s tenure as president.
As part of the nationwide industrial strike, Cosatu provincial secretary Edwin Mkhize said affiliates from various sectors would join in.
Mkhize said it expected thousands of members to join the strike. He, however, would not be drawn into commenting about the expected turnout .
Unions affiliated to Cosatu included critical industries such as health, education, municipal workers, transport, mining.
The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa, SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) and the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union indicated that members would join the planned mass action.
“Based on the response from our provincial shop steward’s council, which we use as a mobilisation platform, we anticipate scores of workers lending support.
“Reports from our affiliates on the work they are doing on the ground is promising. We are positive it is going to be a successful campaign,” Mkhize said.
Mkhize said the twin evils of corruption and job losses had cost workers their livelihoods and robbed people of much-needed services.
“The main challenges we foresee as Cosatu is that if we fail to deal with these issues, we are going to face disinvestment in our country, where investors will lose confidence.
“At the end of the day, it is the workers who are going to suffer,” he said.
He said the banning of labour brokers, which the trade union federation has been calling for, was also on the agenda.
“We believe that labour brokers have subjected many workers to poverty. Labour brokers don’t create any employment, they are just a middleman.
“We don’t want them to be regulated, we want them be completely banned. We are bringing that matter up again as Cosatu,” said Mkhize.
The strike was granted to Cosatu by the National Economic Development and Labour Council.
Nedlac and a Section 77 certificate has been granted, which protected workers who took part in strike.
The march will start at 9am from King Dinuzulu Park down Dr Pixley Kaseme (West) Street to the Durban City Hall.
Permission has also been granted by the city.
Sadtu has called on its members from all regions in KwaZulu-Natal to “paint the city red on Wednesday.”
Msizi Nhlapho, SACP KZN first deputy secretary, said, “We will be part of the march and we support the demands made by Cosatu 100%. We are mobilising our members to be part of the march.”
Like Cosatu, the SACP has been calling on Zuma to step down as president of the country citing the many controversies that he has been mired in.
Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said the nationwide industrial strike was the labour federation’s way of showing it’s force to the ruling party.
Khumalo said the issue of state capture was nothing new and that these marches were bound to resurface as a result of differences in the ANC, SACP and Cosatu tripartite alliance leading up to the ANC elective conference in December.
The relationship between the ANC and Cosatu reached an all-time low this year after the federation banned Zuma from speaking at its events.
Cosatu declared its support for Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma as ANC president, snubbing Zuma’s perceived preferred candidate, former AU chairpeson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
Zuma has been on the receiving end of the public wrath after the surfacing of the so-called #GuptaLeaks which placed his son, Duduzane, and the Gupta business family at the centre of the state capture saga.
This prompted ANC national executive member Bheki Cele, a strong critic of Zuma to say: “The Guptas must go back to where they come from.”
“It’s similar to what was happening during the times of former president Thabo Mbeki, when Cosatu was not seeing eye to eye with him. These so-called rolling mass actions happened regularly.
“Now that Cosatu and the Zuma-led government have differences, we hear about mass action.
Khumalo said the march was a show of strength and a clear message to the ANC to tow the alliance line in the succession race.
“Cosatu is sending a message that if the ANC puts Dlamini Zuma in power, it can make this country ungovernable in the future.”