President Cyril Ramaphosa warms himself in a blanket that was given to him as a gift after delivering the keynote address at the Nehawu 11th national congress  in Boksburg, near Johannesburg. Picture: THE TIMES
President Cyril Ramaphosa warms himself in a blanket that was given to him as a gift after delivering the keynote address at the Nehawu 11th national congress in Boksburg, near Johannesburg. Picture: THE TIMES

In a rare show of unity, the country’s biggest labour federation, Cosatu, and Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) have called for urgent action against state capture and "other elements" threatening economic stability in SA.

The organisations decided at a two-day meeting they would work independently and jointly to combat state capture, promising further talks to spell out a programme of action.

Cosatu said work was already under way formally to apply for a section 77 protest notice at the National Economic Development and Labour Council, which needs to grant it permission to strike against corruption and state capture.

BLSA CEO Bonang Mohale said the steps agreed on required boldness and valiance on the part of those who sought meaningful change to the country’s downward trajectory that held little hope for the 9.3-million unemployed in SA.

"It needs integrity. If politicians say: ‘But we have not broken any law,’ the standard can’t just be the law just because you have not been convicted of any crime," he said.

Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali told Business Day on the sidelines of the Nehawu congress in Boksburg some of the issues business raised painted a gloomy picture.

He said discontent in the mining industry about the newly launched version of the mining charter was one of the issues that needed further exploring. They would, however, first call for the reversal of transactions in state-owned companies they deemed unlawful.

These included the criticised buyout of Tegeta, a coal-mining operation, by Oakbay Investment Group, a Gupta-owned company. The two organisations also wanted the Eskom board to be fired to make way for the power producer’s renewal.

"We are demanding the replacement of the entire Eskom board and the appointment of a nonconflicted board, chairman and CEO because at the moment everything is interim. This is because the net asset value of Eskom is bigger than most African countries and it needs to be protected," said Mohale. He said increased accountability of politically elected leaders with enhanced checks and balances was also one of the pivotal actions in regaining public and investor trust, which is essential if the country were to recover from its technical recession and less than 2% growth rate.

Meanwhile, Cosatu’s biggest affiliate, public service union Nehawu, said in its secretariat report presented to the congress on Monday night it had become increasingly clear, more so with the leaked Gupta e-mails, that the family’s network of corporate capture was widespread.

The union that is dominant in the public sector also agreed with public assertions that the network "involves some leaders of the ANC, its leagues and the MKVA [Umkhonto we Sizwe Veterans Association]".

"Big money is playing a role in the current process in [the run-up to the] 54th ANC national conference, with the so-called premier league openly emerging as a faction rallying around comrade Jacob Zuma."

Big money is playing a role in the current process in [the run-up to the] 54th ANC national conference, with the so-called premier league openly emerging as a faction rallying around comrade Jacob Zuma

 BLSA and Cosatu said they hoped the judicial commission of inquiry, yet to be set up by President Jacob Zuma, who is also implicated in state capture, should have powers to arrest, prosecute and sentence those found guilty of looting money from the state. It said the time had come for its members to debate whether the ANC was still capable of self-correction or whether such capacity to lead was absent.

Addressing the conference, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa urged Nehawu and the ANC’s alliance partners to emerge from their conferences more united than before to strengthen the ruling party ahead of the 2019 national elections. "Beyond December [and the ANC’s national elective conference] comrades‚ we need to intensify our campaign for the 2019 elections.

"They must begin intensifying from December moving forward because, then‚ the African National Congress will be armed with the best policies.

"It will have the best policies which are underpinned by revolutionary radicalism and policies that are going to be implemented‚" said Ramaphosa.

"These must be events of renewal‚ they must be events where we renew our strength, where we reinforce our determination to be united.

"Let us seize these opportunities to decisively tackle the difficulties in our movement and in our alliance," Ramaphosa said.

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