Protesters march to the Union buildings against President Jacob Zuma on April 07, 2017 in Tshwane. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Protesters march to the Union buildings against President Jacob Zuma on April 07, 2017 in Tshwane. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

In an unprecedented move, business organisations have thrown their weight behind Cosatu’s national protest against corruption and state capture.

The labour federation plans to lead about 100,000 of its members to the streets in the major cities on Wednesday, in a call for an end to corrupt activities, which have drained the fiscus.

Business Unity SA (Busa) and Business Leadership SA (BLSA) say they support the marches.

However, the planned marches have been criticised by former Cosatu affiliates, the National Metalworkers Union of SA and the Food and Allied Workers’ Union.

The two unions described the protest as a "desperate attempt" by Cosatu "to remain relevant". They said Cosatu was part of the "very machinery" against which it planned to protest by being in partnership with the ANC.

Cosatu has been granted a section 77 certificate by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to protect workers who take part in the protest. The protest is likely to disrupt businesses, schools and health services, among other sectors.

While ordinarily business would be against any action that threatened productivity, BLSA CEO Bonang Mohale said the country found itself in "extraordinary times", which called for "unusual bedfellows".

He said: "In these extraordinary times, in which our Constitution is under threat in our young nation, BLSA felt it necessary to throw its weight behind labour’s call against state capture, specifically against the Gupta and Zuma families."

Cosatu said it was embarking on the protest as state capture and corruption had a negative effect not only on investment, but also on job creation at a time when the country’s unemployment rate was over 27%.

BLSA and Cosatu met in June to discuss how best to respond to the problems of state capture and corruption, which they said threatened the country’s economic stability and required "boldness and valiance" by all.

The one thing that aligned the country’s social partners was the effect corruption had on the country and the economy, Busa CEO Tanya Cohen said.

While workers were expected to abide by the Labour Relations Act when exercising their right to protest, Busa was in support of some of the issues referred to Nedlac by Cosatu in its application for a certificate, Cohen said.

"We certainly support the call for a commission of inquiry into state capture," she said.

"We are certainly exceptionally concerned about the state of corruption."

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