Several thousand demonstrators marched through Johannesburg on Wednesday to protest against government corruption as public anger builds over South Africa’s weakening economy.
The rally was led by the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA), which has become a powerful voice of opposition to President Jacob Zuma and the ruling Africa National Congress (ANC) party.
Banners held by demonstrators read “Away with corruption. Away with Zuma government” and “Corruption taxes the poor. We say tax the rich.”
“We see a very direct relationship between corruption and the state of our economy, which results in us losing jobs in the thousands,” Zwelinzima Vavi, one of the organisers, told cheering crowds.
“Thirteen million people go to bed every night without anything to eat, while 50 percent of workers are earning below the poverty line. We have had enough.”
According to the latest International Monetary Fund forecasts, economic growth will fall to just 1.4 percent this year in South Africa and will decline again next year.
A tumbling rand and unreliable electricity supplies have added to the country’s woes, with business confidence now at its lowest level since the end of apartheid in 1994. Zuma’s private residence has become a symbol of alleged government misspending after $24 million (21 million euros) was used on “security” improvements to the sprawling homestead.