South African union work­ers protest against cor­rup­tion

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World - Photo: AP

SOUTH Africa’s big­gest union group held marches na­tion­wide on Wed­nes­day to protest what it al­leges is chronic cor­rup­tion fu­eled by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and a prom­i­nent fam­ily of busi­ness­men, reflecting pub­lic anger over a scan­dal that has en­snared sev­eral in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies.

The protests by the Congress of South African Trade Unions in Jo­han­nes­burg and other ci­ties come amid a power strug­gle within the rul­ing African Na­tional Congress party, the for­mer anti-apartheid move­ment that has led South Africa since white mi­nor­ity rule ended in 1994. Some for­mer loy­al­ists in the rul­ing party have called for Zuma’s ouster as a way to re­store con­fi­dence in the ANC, even though the pres­i­dent’s sec­ond five-year term is slated to run un­til elec­tions in 2019.

The demon­stra­tions by thou­sands of mem­bers of the union group, which once sup­ported Zuma, are un­likely to pose an im­me­di­ate threat to the pres­i­dent, who re­tains the sup­port of pow­er­ful fac­tions within the rul­ing party and has sur­vived a se­ries of par­lia­men­tary votes of no con­fi­dence spon­sored by the po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion. Ma­neu­ver­ing among ANC fac­tions is in­ten­si­fy­ing ahead of a party con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber at which Zuma will re­lin­quish the post of party chief.

Some marchers voiced sup­port for Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, who is seen as a lead­ing can­di­date to re­place Zuma and whose re­marks crit­i­cal of cor­rup­tion were in­ter­preted as an at­tack on the pres­i­dent and his as­so­ci­a­tion with the Gup­tas, a fam­ily of In­dian im­mi­grant busi­ness­men ac­cused of loot­ing state funds and in­flu­enc­ing top gov­ern­ment ap­point­ments for their own ben­e­fit.

While Zuma and the Gup­tas have de­nied wrong­do­ing, mount­ing scan­dals have hit in­ter­na­tional firms with links to the Gup­tas.

Bell Pottinger, a Lon­don-based com­pany, filed for bank­ruptcy after be­ing thrown out of the trade body of the Bri­tish pub­lic re­la­tions in­dus­try. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion had found that it con­ducted a racially di­vi­sive pub­lic­ity cam­paign on be­half of the Gup­tas’ Oak­bay Cap­i­tal com­pany, high­light­ing the eco­nomic power of South Africa’s white mi­nor­ity in a pos­si­ble at­tempt to dis­tract at­ten­tion from scan­dals sur­round­ing the fam­ily.

KPMG, an in­ter­na­tional ac­count­ing firm, in­ves­ti­gated work that it did for the Gup­tas and said it found “work that fell con­sid­er­ably short of KPMG’S stan­dards,” lead­ing to the dis­missals of its chief ex­ec­u­tive in South Africa and six other se­nior fig­ures. Mckin­sey, a U.S. con­sul­tancy, has also come un­der scru­tiny, though it said in a state­ment that it has “not en­gaged in cor­rup­tion or paid bribes.” – AP

Ash and vol­canic rocks bil­low­ing from the crater of an erupt­ing vol­cano on Van­u­atu’s Am­bae Is­land. Photo: AP

Work­ers take part in a march in Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa, Septem­ber 27.

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