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New group to rally for removal of president

The Star
Leaders of civil society, political parties, labour unions and religious organisations have joined together to launch the Freedom Movement, a new organisation aiming to remove President Jacob Zuma from office.

Members of the movement, launched at the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto on Thursday, will rally at Freedom Park in Pretoria next week on Freedom Day, April 27.

The conference that launched the movement included leaders from the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and the DA.

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UDM MP Bantu Holomisa said other parties, including the EFF, IFP, African Christian Democratic Party and Cope, had met with Freedom Movement leaders but had not yet committed to offering financial support.

With regard to “protest fatigue”, political analyst Prince Mashele argued that South Africans cannot afford to pause their protests.

“When citizens get tired, rogue leaders do not. When Zimbabweans got tired, Mugabe did not. We will never get tired, because if we do, Zuma will destroy this country.”

Mashele also noted that the movement received the support of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and read from a statement from him.

“In principle, Aunt Leah and I are in support of a united coalition calling on all South Africans to join the event,” said Tutu. “It is important that we unite as South Africans to bring an end to state capture and that we further the values of our democratic society by speaking out against any and all kinds of injustice in our society.

“Let’s work together in the interest of a better life for all our people.”

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa told The Star that he did not think the protests in Pretoria next week would be particularly different from previous ones, but he hoped a cohesive, consistent message of unity would set the rally apart.

Dennis George, of the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa), discussed how South Africa’s international economic image has been negatively impacted by recent political changes.

“When we went to London, we wanted to show investors the progress we’re making, but Pravin Gordhan got an SMS from the president to return,” George said. “It demonstrated to everyone that we’re not credible or competent.”

George added that Fedusa suspended participation in Team South Africa after it found it impossible to show investors the economic potential of South Africa.

“Wherever we go, the elephant in the room is Zuma,” he said.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said that when the president has blatantly violated the constitution, it’s unfathomable to allow that person to remain head of state.

Holomisa said he thinks the onus to remove Zuma is on the ANC, and he thinks Zuma would step down if asked to do so by his party.

“If the ANC doesn’t take the opportunity of the vote of no-confidence to remove him, our strategy will have to change. We’ll have to make sure the ANC is banished in 2019. If they don’t take action, it’ll be at their own peril.”

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