Leading this call on Friday was the widow of Struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada, former minister Barbara Hogan.
“Last night when the news began to filter through about the dastardly deeds that were being done in dark corners of this country, many of us in the family began to have second thoughts about whether we wanted to have a commemoration by a president who has clearly gone rogue,” a visibly angry Hogan said.
“We have to form a broad, mass democratic alliance to to take on the forces of evil and the rogues and the thieves who want to steal our country before us. We need to say to people that they need to put pressure. This country is not for sale.”
Hogan warned that cabinet ministers should not resign as they would simply be replaced by Zuma cronies “hell-bent on an agenda”.
In a statement last night, the SACP said its ministers would remain in their posts.
“This is not because there’s any individual entitlement.
“You (the ministers) are serving in various capacities because of the support you enjoy across the ANC movement, because of your Struggle credentials, and because of your performance in government.”
Hogan’s press briefing was held on behalf of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and coincided with the anniversary of Kathrada’s letter to Zuma to resign.
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation was shocked by the announcement by the president that the memorial service for Kathrada had been postponed indefinitely.
A memorial service for Kathrada will now be held at 2pm on Saturday at the City Hall in Joburg.
Hogan was not alone in her condemnation of Zuma, who axed Pravin Gordhan as finance minister late on Thursday night and sent the rand into freefall.
Speaking to reporters in Bloemfontein, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said Zuma had presented the ANC’s top leaders with a list of new cabinet appointments as a fait accompli, going against the party’s tradition of acting after consultation.
“It was just a process of informing us of his decision, it was not a consultation because he (Zuma) came with a ready-made list,” Ramaphosa said.
“I raised my concerns and objection on the removal of the minister of finance largely because he was being removed based on an intelligence report that I believe had unsubstantiated allegations about the minister and his deputy.”
He confirmed the document, described as “shoddy” by the SACP, claimed Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, who was also fired, were trying to mobilise financial markets against the government.
“I found it totally unacceptable that such a person who served the country with such distinction would do something like that. ”
Steven Friedman, an academic and political analyst, said: “I think he (Ramaphosa) is really in a position where he has to do this and Zuma can’t remove the deputy president of the country, same as he cannot remove the secretary-general of the ANC.
“They have a certain freedom of movement.”
Earlier, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, in an unprecedented concession, said the ANC’s top six had been unable to stop Zuma.
Mantashe told a radio station that the reshuffle made him “uncomfortable”, and that he did not know where the new cabinet was formulated or by whom, a possible reference to Jonas’s revelation a year ago that the Gupta family meddled in ministerial appointments.
Yesterday, Jonas quipped to reporters: “It seems like some families have become a national interest.”
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said on Facebook that Gordhan and Jonas were “characterised by high levels of incorruptibility”.
In the Western Cape on Friday, the high court threw out the DA’s urgent application to stop the swearing-in by Zuma of the new ministers and deputy ministers.
In his ruling, Judge Owen Rogers said any decision had to be based on fact and not perceptions. However, the issue of the weakening rand and risk of a downgrade in the next few months had to be taken seriously.
“Our decision in this matter is not about the rights or wrongs of the president. We simply say at this stage it will not be right for us to intervene,” said Judge Rogers.
Earlier in Parliament, more than 200 members of civil society converged outside the national legislature to call for Zuma to go.
Meanwhile, Zuma swore in his new cabinet ministers last night and refused to take any questions from the media.
EFF leader Julius Malema said the reshuffle was factional and would complete the capture of National Treasury by “nefarious forces”.
Cas Coovadia, the managing director of the Banking Association of SA (Basa), said Zuma’s reshuffle had “put our country into turmoil” and raised legitimate and alarming concerns over fiscal discipline, protection of institutions “and indeed the scope of state capture”.
Basa, he said, had previously voiced its “deep concerns” over Zuma’s actions but “these have unfortunately fallen on deaf ears”.
Zuma’s actions “directly undermine the significant progress made in the last 18 months towards building confidence in our country”.
Unperturbed, the ANC youth and women’s leagues welcomed the reshuffle.
ANCWL secretary-general Meokgo Matuba said: “An ability to evaluate progress of the state and making adjustments where necessary is not a crisis but a fundamental attribute of good governance.”
Addressing a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday, Gordhan received rapturous applause when he called on the masses to mobilise against Zuma’s decision.