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More massive marches on the cards next week

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Jacob Zuma turns 75 on Wednesday, but it is unlikely the President will have a happy birthday, as the largest anti government protests since the dawn of democracy are set to continue.

The DA, EFF, Cope, United Democratic Movement and the African Christian Democratic Party will on Wednesday (April 12) embark on a mass march to the Union Buildings in protest of the current political crisis facing the country and in light of the recent cabinet reshuffle which has seen the Rand tumble and the country's economy reduced to junk status.

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Joburg Residents take to Beyers Naude Drive on Friday to protest against Jacob Zuma's cabinet reshuffle, calling for him to step down. Picture: Shayne Robinson

The march is expected to take place on Zuma's 75th birthday.

"We don't care about his birthday nor do we recognise him as the leader of this country. Ours is to stand united with the people of South Africa in defending our land against corruption," UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said.

On Friday thousands of citizens and civil organisations across the country organised marches calling for Zuma to resign.

Holomisa commended everyone for braving the weather and standing up for what is right.

"They did well. The intimidation by ANC members didn't work. What we saw in the country represented a spirit of unity and tolerance in pursuit of one common goal, to save our country."

He pointed out that the upcoming march had nothing to do with competing with civil society or chasing numbers and added that even if 50 people showed up the march would still be significant.

ACDP President Kenneth Meshoe said: "South Africans are gatvol."

Meshoe said it might be Zuma's birthday but through the march, it will be clear to the President that people no longer care about him.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the march was just the beginning of bigger things to come.

"We have started a movement for change. This is the start of rolling mass action, we will continue with the same actions until the ANC comes to its senses and agree to remove him (Zuma)," he said.

Maimane called on all members of Parliament to remember their oath of office, to respect the Constitution and to put South Africans first when they vote in Parliament in two weeks time.

The DA’s Gauteng Leader, John Moodey said the March was a clear message from thousands that it was a time for the ANC to act against Zuma.

Cope spokesman Dennis Bloem said the peaceful protests were reminiscent of the 1980s were people showed a united front.

"The people of this country have come out to show that they are sick of this President who thinks that he is above anybody and law. We are encouraged to see the rainbow nation united with one voice to say enough is enough," he said.

Calls for Zuma to step down got even louder on Friday when news filtered in that Fitch, the international ratings agency, downgraded South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to sub-investment grade, so-called junk status.

Fitch pointed to President Jacob Zuma’s decision to remove Pravin Gordhan as finance minister last week, saying it was likely to mean a change in economic policy.

“In Fitch’s view, the cabinet reshuffle, which involved the replacement of the finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, and the deputy finance minister, Mcebisi Jonas, is likely to result in a change in the direction of economic policy.”

It suggested Gordhan may have been punished for efforts to improve the running of parastatals and said with him gone, these were now more likely to be a significant burden on the state’s balance sheet.

National Treasury acknowledged that the downgrade was a setback for the country but said government remained committed to the fiscal policy outlined in the February budget and to improving the running of state-owned enterprises.

“We urge all South Africans to remain positive and continue to work hard in turning this economy around.”

Meanwhile the pro Zuma camp came out in support of the President too.

African National Congress (ANC) presidential contender Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma appears to have referred to the Save SA protests on Friday as ‘rubbish’.

She was responding to a Twitter conversation in which Treasury spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said the Save SA protests were well-funded.

Another person then said it’s mind-blowing how many resources their privilege affords them.

Dlamini-Zuma then said: "This is what they are protecting... hence some of us are not part of this rubbish. They must join us for the march for our land they stole…

Some members of the ANC are also looking forward to celebrating the President's bid day. Speaking at the ANC Youth League's mini-rally in Ekurhuleni this week, ANC national working committee member and Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane said members of the ruling party in Gauteng would come out in numbers to celebrate Zuma's birthday.

Amid calls for the ANC leader to step down, Mokonyane told the crowd that Zuma was going nowhere would remain President until 2019.

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