Zwelinzima Vavi addresses the audience at Church Square during the #OccupyTreasury protest on March 31, 2017 in Pretoria.
JOHANNESBURG - South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi said African National Congress (ANC) MPs should consider the country's best interests during next month's vote of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma.
“They have chosen Jacob Zuma over and over again over the interests of ordinary people of this country, including destroying the prospect of the ANC to be seen as an organisation of the future by young people. We are appealing to them, can you for a change choose your country over an individual you have made so powerful," said Vavi.
"Can you remember that a few years ago you were in prison, you were in exile, your kids and you survived the bullets from the apartheid army and yet never deserted the principle once? What is in this 4-by-4s so important that you can throw away the future of the entire country just to retain your policy?"
Vavi was speaking during a panel discussion at Liliesleaf Farm, where The Legacy Project is honouring Nelson Mandela with a series of debates.
He says inequality is the most serious threat to South Africa's democracy at the moment.
“It’s a crisis that is worsening by the day, it’s not getting better," said Vavi.
"We’ve now become the most unequal society in the whole world. We have overtaken everybody including Namibia. In the apartheid years we used to compete with Brazil, Malaysia and others. We are now the most unequal and that’s an indictment on all of us, particularly those driving policy direction of our country on government level."
According to Vavi, "the economy has simply left our people behind and has marginalised far too many million and we live in two worlds in one country - one which is relatively white, small and well-to-do, and the other one relatively black and in the bottom of the food chain.”
Section27's Mark Heywood says South Africans need to take a stand against inequality.
Speaking at the same event, Haywood said: "We’ve all become complicit in this inequality. We’re the constant beneficiaries of this inequality, much as we may denounce it."
According to Haywood, "We wander the streets on a day by day basis and we see inequality in front of our eyes. We see it in the kids that are begging in the streets. We see it in the unemployed men and women who sit on the side of the road. We see it as we drive the rods with people still living in shacks without water and electricity and we do nothing about it. We pretend as if we are powerless against this inequality. It’s capitalism, its government, it’s Jacob Zuma- it’s all of those, but they can get away with what they do, but it’s because we allow them to get away with what they do."