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Cosatu puts the heat on Mathale

By Frank Maponya and Russel Molefe | 2011-12-14 09:30:50.0

PEOPLE hung out of office windows yesterday to watch hundreds of Cosatu members wearing their traditional red T-shirts and carrying innovative messages on placards as they marched down the streets of Polokwane.

Cosatu members arrived in Polokwane on buses from different parts of Limpopo in high spirits, attracting the attention of bystanders and early morning shoppers, many of whom joined in the singing.

The labour federation's members were marching to Premier Cassel Mathale's office and were led by their general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. The marchers were demanding that Mathale fights corruption in his government.

The march comes days after five provincial departments - health, public works, treasury, education, roads and transport - were placed under national government administration because of financial maladministration.

This was Cosatu's second march to Mathale's office after he had failed to respond to their demands four months ago.

The protestors refused to give their memorandum of demands to MEC for economic development, environment and tourism, Pitsi Moloto, who they told: "Mathale did not have any problem meeting us while seeking votes for the ANC, and now that he is in power he does not care about the same people who voted him into office."

Vavi told Cosatu members outside Mathale's office that the march was not against the ANC but was aimed at fighting corruption.

"Unless we scale up our campaign against the scourge of corruption, we face the danger that no one will be able to do business with the state without greasing the hands of corrupt gatekeepers who demand bribes, and who, unless they are stopped, may systematically use their power to control large areas of the economy.

"Factions these days are formed not around different ideologies or political views, but access to government power that brings its leaders closer to state tenders," he said.

Vavi said talented individuals who cannot play the dirty game of "survival of the fittest" get sidelined as the politics based on a "winner takes all" mentality imposed the worst, most inefficient and corrupt individuals on South Africans.

There was nearly a riot when some protestors prevented Moloto from addressing them. Moloto was accompanied by cooperative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs MEC Soviet Lekganyane.

A visibly angry Lekganyane swore at a section of the jeering crowd. He exchanged angry words with some of the protesters through the fence and had to be whisked away by government officials. This almost led to the group throwing stones at Mathale's office.

Police stepped in timeously to prevent a scene that almost turned ugly.

The march had the full support of South African Communist Party provincial secretary, Gilbert Kganyago, and Forum of Limpopo Entrepreneurs secretary, Xiviko Mabunda.

Mathale has been on the receiving end of Cosatu after the federation accused him of enriching himself and those close to him, including suspended ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.

In August, education MEC Dickson Masemola received a memorandum and promised that Mathale would respond before the end of September but he failed to do so.