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PICS: #NationalDayOfAction hits Pretoria Streets

South Africa

Tshwane – Scores of Economic Freedom Fighters kicked off the anti-Zuma protests, dubbed the National Day of Action, in the early hours of Wednesday at Church Square in central Pretoria.

By 5am, the small group was singing and dancing around the Square – adjacent to National Treasury.

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A truck loaded with a huge public address system was playing loud music at the scene.

Food vendors had descended on the area, setting up stalls ahead of the multi-party protest. Some were selling EFF regalia.

Hawker, Thomas Mabena was hoping that the National Day of Action would bring him good fortune. "I support Juju [Julius Malema] through and through. There is no alternative to him. So today I am here to protest, but my family also has to eat. We all go home happy," said the father of five.

Numerous police vehicles, including Nyalas were also at the Square.

On Monday, EFF leader Julius Malema warned pro-Zuma activists not to attempt disrupting the mega protest, incorporating numerous opposition political parties.

“All those people who intimidate people and threaten violence, this is a peaceful march, but we are not scared of anyone like that. No one is going to take away our right to protest peacefully, in a violent manner. The SA Police Service does nothing because it is also captured. We don’t want that,"

Malema addressed journalists, flanked by top officials of other opposition parties.

Malema said supporters of President Jacob Zuma, whose 75th birthday coincides with the march, must be careful not to interfere with the protest.

The protest on Wednesday, incorporating parties including EFF, Democratic Alliance, United Democratic Movement, Themba Godi's African People's Convention, Congress of the People coincided with President Jacob Zuma's 75th birthday.

The march is part of the rolling mass actions planned to force Zuma to step down.

The marchers have already gathering at Church Square in the Pretoria CBD.

They will make their way to the seat of government, the Union Buildings, at midday.

"The SA Police Service members, together with other government departments, law enforcement agencies and stakeholders, will once again be deployed to maintain law and order and to keep South Africans safe," Police Minister Fikile Mbalula told reporters on Tuesday.

On Friday law enforcement authorities had policed another national anti-Zuma march, when thousands marched in major cities and towns demanding that Zuma should step down over his unpopular midnight reshuffle that saw finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas sacked.

Friday marches were organised the DA and civic organisation, Save SA.

The President, who has said the marches indicate that racism was still rife, will be far from the protests as he celebrate his 75th birthday at the historic Kliptown in Soweto on Wednesday.

Although ANC alliance partners, the SA Communist Party (ANC) and the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) have joined calls for Zuma to quit, the two distanced themselves from Wednesday's march and said they would not participate "and march alongside the opposition".

The SACP has labelled the mass action as a "bourgeoisie march" and announced its plans to demonstrate outside national Treasury offices next week.

The opposition parties were unfazed by criticism, and jointly announced that Wednesday's march was the start of a rolling mass action until the President quits.

The opposition parties said Zuma can no longer deliver on his mandate and was being controlled by the controversial Gupta family.

"The influence of the Gupta family on our president, including several ministers, means President Zuma has been bought by the highest bidder, and that South Africa is being run from Saxonwold," said UDM leader Bantu Holomisa.

"From Wednesday onwards, the aforementioned political parties shall embark on a programme of periodic mass action to ensure that South Africans, and their country, are protected from the brutal hand of Mr Jacob Zuma."

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