Brandishing posters and wearing ninja style headbands, thousands of United Front (UF) members and supporters sang, danced and booed outside Parliament, demanding a people’s budget minutes before Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene delivered his budget.
Led by Numsa’s deputy general secretary Karl Cloete and UF’s Western Cape leader Wafaa Abdurahman, the group, some wearing Economic Freedom Fighters berets with the party’s t-shirts, brought Plein Street to a standstill, demanding a budget that allows for free water, sanitation, housing and electricity for everyone.
The group of protesters was made up of more than 10 different non-governmental organisations from the Western Cape, who all pledged support to the UF in their quest for an “anti-rich budget”.
Wealthy must be taxed
Standing out in the sun so hot that one of the protesters fainted and had to be taken to hospital, Cloete said they demanded that the wealthy and the capitalists must be taxed so that the poor could get better housing.
“The RDP houses provided are an insult to the people. They are an insult to both [Helen] Zille and [Jacob] Zuma. People who create a circus of this institution [Parliament] must know that they are sitting on a ticking time bomb. Every day in our communities we must battle for clean water, must worry about lack of sanitation and sanitation serves.
“When they [the ruling party] say they want to reclaim the freedom charter, it suggests to us that when you want to reclaim something, you have lost it somewhere.”
He said the UF was not a political party, but an organisation for all those who were against policies that were anti new liberal.
“It is bringing workers and communities together. It is making sure the kind of treatment that communities are getting is changed into a dignified, human society. The worker’s party is coming. People must run and be scared about 2016 local government elections, because people’s power shall determine who can have the privilege of governing our people at municipalities.
“The problem with those sitting in the house of the circus [Parliament] is that they think to be elected is a right, but is a privilege to serve the people. And if the people do not want you anymore, you must go,” he said to whistles and loud applause.
The group handed over their nine-page memorandum to deputy secretary to Parliament, Baby Tyawa, who promised to give it to the proper authorities.
The memorandum, addressed to Minister Nene, demanded: “A people’s budget democratically decided by the people themselves. A budget to end gender-based violence. A budget to end load-shedding.”
Though they demanded that their memorandum be read out in parliament before the minister spoke, the group read out each of their demands to the deputy secretary, going over the 2pm when Nene started presenting his budget.
With posters calling for “people before profits” and “no to an anti-poor budget”, they kept singing and protesting outside Parliament as the minister presented his budget.