"The ANC has been stolen." These were the words of SACP general-secretary Blade Nzimande to thousands of marchers in downtown Johannesburg on Wednesday during a nationwide march.
Nzimande was referring to ANC president Jacob Zuma's close ties with the controversial Gupta family, who have been accused of running the country. In recent months, damning evidence came to light when leaked emails detailed the extent of the Gupta family's control over cabinet ministers and state-owned parastatals.
Nzimande said the protest was about more than just the ANC.
"This is not [just] a strike against the ANC, this is a strike against what is wrong but not against the movement"
"Those who are speaking in their useless newspapers are saying this is a strike against ANC, it is not, we are doing this for the workers."
Nzimande said trade union federation Cosatu and the SACP did not want the ruling ANC to be taken over by a faction at the party's December conference.
"We [the SACP] want to contest in elections. But we want to hear from you, go back and talk about that," Nzimande told workers.
Police were on high alert in the city centre as the crowds sang and danced as they marched. Many carried banners calling for Zuma to step down as president.
By midday, the march remained peaceful.
Businesses were closed. A memorandum detailing concerns was handed to Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba outside the provincial legislature.
Thousands flooded the streets in 15 city centres throughout the country on Wednesday to march against Zuma, led by Cosatu and SACP. Some 450,000 members were expected to participate in the march, which got underway at around 11am.