Cape Town - Tens of thousands of South Africans took to the streets of the country on Friday, demanding that Jacob Zuma step down as president – effectively saying: “Your move ANC.”
This was the latest development in a dramatic last 10 days in South Africa, in which Zuma swung the axe ruthlessly in his Cabinet, sacking both the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, and the Deputy Minister, Mcebisi Jonas.
In Cape Town, a crowd estimated at anything between 15 000 and 50 000 people descended onto Parliament, waving banners and chanting for Zuma to quit.
They called on the ANC National Executive Committee to recall Zuma or for Parliament to vote in support of a motion of no confidence against him on April 18.
Lawson Naidoo of Save South Africa said this was not the end of the campaign, and that mobilisation would continue.
He said people were extremely angry.
“This is the beginning of the campaign and by no stretch the end,” he said.
Co-founder of SA First Forum Crispin Sonn told thousands of protesters that the march would put pressure on MPs to vote for the removal of Zuma on April 18.
The ANC has made it clear that its MPs, who hold the cards in the vote, would not vote with the opposition.
One protester Karen Barensche said they wanted the ANC to see there was a huge public outcry against Zuma.
Another protester, David Green, said he hoped the march would send a message to the ANC about the need to axe Zuma.
“We need to stop the rot that runs deep in government,” said Green.
He called for a change of the NEC to remove Zuma.
In downtown Joburg, hundreds of MK veterans lined up outside Luthuli House, vowing to protect the ANC headquarters from attack by the DA. And in Saxonwold, outside the compound of the Gupta family, long-time associates of Zuma, there were tense moments when anti-Zuma protesters and a small group of Gupta supporters wearing “Black First, Land First” T-shirts had a stand-off.
Smaller groups of ANC Youth League members who police had to keep apart from anti-Zuma protesters, had earlier thanked the president from saving the country from “white monopoly capital”
In the Eastern Cape, anti-Zuma protesters had one message for Zuma: if he did not resign, they would unseat the ANC through the ballot in 2019.
More than 2 000 protesters gathered at Buffalo City stadium outside East London before making their way to East London City Hall, where messages of support for those calling for the President’s resignation were read out. They braved a rainy weather singing: “Siphuma imvula isitsho, phuma Zuma [We’re going out while it’s raining, resign Zuma].”
Similar marches were organised in Grahamstown, King William’s Town and Queenstown.
UDM MP Mncedisi Filtane, who took part in the East London march, said Zuma had flouted the country’s constitution. “Constitution means nothing to Zuma and the ANC is doing nothing about this. Zuma is bad for our economy and this kills our chances of employment. Zuma has to go for our economy to grow,” said Filtane.
A student from Fort Hare University said she supported calls for Zuma to resign because she feared that levels of unemployment are going to be worse in the coming years. “We are all worried because we have recently been downgraded by the rating agencies. We cannot grow the economy under a President who is not prepared to listen to our concerns,” she said.