"We are not a 'junk' country. [President] Jacob Zuma may have led us to this point, but we are embarking on a movement for change which seeks to create opportunities for all and build a prosperous, diverse nation," Maimane said.
"The people of South Africa will never accept the destruction of our country. We will stand up and stop it, together." Maimane said this after leading a "March for Change" through the streets of the Johannesburg city centre calling for Zuma to step down following his recent Cabinet reshuffle which resulted in the country downgraded to junk by S&P Global ratings agency.
On Tuesday – after threats of violence – the DA changed its plan to march to Luthuli House.
The DA instead marched to Mary Fitzgerald Square in Johannesburg. The DA's march coincided with several others planned around the country in support of mounting calls for Zuma to step down. The calls have become louder after he fired Pravin Gordhan as finance minister. Maimane said the moment had arrived for South Africans to stand together against "a corrupt president and his government".
"We have all had enough of Jacob Zuma and the corrupt ANC government he leads. We have had enough of the Guptas and their stranglehold on our country and our economy," Maimane said.
"So we are here today to show the world that enough is enough. That our spirit will not be crushed. That hope is alive in our country. Make no mistake, when we came together, we had our differences. But in the spirit of ubuntu, in the best interests of our country and its future, we united around our shared goals."
Meanwhile, police had to fire rubber bullets at African National Congress protesters in downtown Johannesburg as they headed towards the DA anti-Zuma gathering in the city.
About a hundred chanting ANC supporters were heading from the ANC’s headquarters, Luthuli House, towards the Westgate Transport Hub where the DA protest march against the president had begun, taking an updated route towards the Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown.
When they realised that the DA marchers had already left, the ANC supporters changed direction and began heading down Commissioner and Ntemi Pilitso Streets towards Newtown, but ran into a police contingency blocking off the road.
They tried to force their way through and a skirmish broke out. The police fired rubber bullets, driving the ANC group back towards Luthuli House. At least one person was injured.