They came from far and wide across the province, painted the capital city of the North West red in their union colours, sang anti-Supra Mahumapelo songs and reiterated their call for the premier to call it quits.
This was the scene during the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) march called the “national day of action” – their second march to the provincial legislature in almost two months.
One would think it was all about Mahumapelo and nothing else but Nehawu said the march was about corruption, performance bonuses, calls for an investigation into state-owned wild animals donated to individuals including known Mahumapelo allies, other workers’ grievances and then, at the bottom of the list: “We still maintain that Premier Mahumapelo must go.”
Unlike the last march on March 20, this time the government was given 24 hours to respond, failing which the “national union will organise a public servants’ two days stay away in the province”.
“Subsequently, [Nehawu] will extend the action to all provinces across the country as a solidarity to North West members and workers in general if the impasse continues to remain unresolved. In this regard, the national union will also deploy all its national office bearers and members of the national executive committee to the province as a warning shot but also as a signal of seriousness in pursuit of the demands tabled in our memorandum hence the North West is cited as a living example for the rest of other provinces who take our union and its members for granted,” Nehawu said.
The union said their demands were in “relation to the crisis currently engulfing all departments across the provincial government including the office of the premier”.
“The aim of the national day of action is to highlight our anger in relation to non-resolution of our demands as submitted to the office of the premier on March 20.
"While we welcome the efforts made by the Cabinet and the president through the appointment of the inter-ministerial team we continue to hold a strong view that most of these efforts are glossing over the problems.”
The memorandum was received by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who was representing the inter-ministerial task team into the North West troubles appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Motsoaledi said while there were many other demands and grievances by workers, he was agreeing with them on one thing he could attest to.
“I can answer one thing without any fear of contradiction that we agree with you fully that in this government we won’t tolerate corruption.
"Those of us who are corrupt, whether they belong to my own party the ANC ... those who steal from the poor, those who steal from the sick must face the full might of the law,” he said.
Motsoaledi has been vocal and strongly condemned the awarding of a mobile clinic to Mediosa, a Gupta-linked company, without a tender process.
The company was later paid R30 million months before hitting the ground.
Motsoaledi later described the Mediosa transaction as an “ATM card for the Guptas”.
READ: News Motsoaledi: Mediosa served as an ATM card for the Guptas
“If there is any evidence of corruption, they must face the music because it’s very clear that corruption and development cannot be mentioned in the same sentence,” Motsoaledi told Nehawu marchers earlier today.
Mediosa was one of the dubious tenders that may have led to the crippling of the public health services in the province.
Health department workers have been on strike for over two months while the department has made headlines for all the wrong reasons including when it could not afford to pay for meat at a local hospital in Mahikeng.
The same hospital was recently taken over by the military health services after workers went on strike while others stayed away from work fearing victimisation by their striking colleagues.
Meanwhile, the ANC provincial executive committee in the North West will march to the provincial legislature on Thursday.
“Following violent unrest in some parts of the province, the ANC in Bokone Bophirima (North West) will hold a peace march in an effort to encourage the spirit of peace and working together.
"The provincial peace march of ANC structures with civil society and non-governmental organisations is meant to promote the programme of reconciliation, healing and renewal in order to return peace and heal the province,” the party said in a statement.
It was not clear whether Mahumapelo would address Thursday’s march, which has been widely interpreted as a counter-march against those calling for his removal.