The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) yesterday welcomed ‘the long overdue recall of Jacob Zuma as President of South Africa’. The ANC had given Zuma until the end of yesterday to resign or a motion of no-confidence in him would be heard today.

However, shortly after ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu announced this, Zuma appeared unannounced on SABC to say he was not prepared to stand down as he had not been given good reasons as to why he should resign.

‘It was very unfair to me that this issue is raised,’ Zuma said. ‘They did not provide me with reasons.’

Early yesterday morning, South African police raided the home of Zuma’s close associates, the wealthy, Indian-born Gupta family, arresting Ajay Gupta and others. SAFTU demanded: ‘Cyril Ramaphosa (ANC President) must now immediately appoint a new National Director of Public Prosecutions who will urgently bring Zuma to court, plus all those others against whom there is prima facie evidence of corruption and other offences.

‘These criminals who have stolen billions of rands from the people in the public service, SOEs (state-owned enterprises) and private companies, must now be arrested, charged and tried.

‘If found guilty, they must be punished severely. There must be absolutely no question of any amnesty, pardon or plea bargain for the man who is not only allegedly personally implicated in criminal acts but who presided over others involved, and appointed leaders of the law enforcement bodies to protect them and himself from prosecution.

‘Any such escape route would be illegal and unconstitutional, in breach of Clause 9.1 which says that “Everyone is equal before the law”. It would set a terrible precedent by establishing one law for the rich and powerful and another for the majority of the people.

‘SAFTU however warns that, however pleased they may be to see the back of this corrupt president, South Africans should not imagine that this change of leadership will resolve all the deep-seated problems we face. ‘Zuma may have gone, but the African National Congress remains in power, and they cannot now pretend that he was the only problem. ANC ministers, MPs, NEC members and Cyril Ramaphosa all share responsibility for the country’s disaster. Only a handful of them raised any red flags during the nine years in which Zuma was committing all the crimes he is now being charged with …

‘SAFTU has no confidence at all that multi-billionaire businessman President Ramaphosa will be any better. His priorities are clear – to make South Africa more attractive to investors, through market-friendly policies.’ SAFTU also welcomed the Hawks’ raid on the Gupta compound in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, and the arrest of Ajay Gupta following search and seizure operations at the office of Free State Premier Ace Magashule and the provincial office of the Department of Agriculture relating to allegations of corruption, and the theft of over Ri billion which was budgeted to assist poor farmers.

‘This is a further victory for SAFTU and all the other organisations who have been demanding this sort of serious action for a long time. It gives us hope that there is now a serious drive to prosecute those allegedly involved in corruption and the looting of public money.’