#Guptas must fall, chant protesters

Published Mar 19, 2016


Pretoria – A group of young people spent the day protesting outside the St George Hotel in Pretoria where the African National Congress national executive committee (NEC) members were meeting on Saturday.

The protesters were moved to one side by the huge security detail manning the main entrance to the hotel. Some of the young people said they were at the protest not as ANC members but just as “concerned South Africans”.

“I’m very concerned about the leadership of this country. I don’t believe in our President Jacob Zuma in terms of the style of leadership that he portrays and seems to portray,” said Maselela Montja.

“We are here to air our views. I don’t have faith in the NEC but I’m here to simply air my grievances as a citizen and a young South African professional. We want the NEC to listen… The concern is that they don’t listen even to the people on the ground who burn tyres and schools.”

The group – some wearing ANC T-shirts – said they were gravely concerned about the influence of the wealthy Gupta family on Zuma and government. Some repeatedly chanted “Zuma must fall” and “Guptas must fall”.

Former ANC Youth League deputy leader Ronald Lamola was one of the first protesters to arrive at the venue. Standing by the roadside he waved a placard as the presidential motorcade drove into the hotel premises. He was later joined by several young men and women singing and waving placards. Some of the placards read, “Viva Mcebisi Jonas” and “We want Zuma out”.

Lamola said the NEC should remove Zuma urgently.

“This is the last warning shot to the ANC. If they don’t fire or remove him this weekend society must stand up and remove him,” said Lamola.

Tshwane metro police officers, ANC marshals, and some armed men claiming to be police officers approached journalists and told them to immediately remove their cars from the open space near the venue.

“This is a space for police officers,” shouted one officer.

Moments later, two recently acquired Tshwane metro police Nyala armoured vehicles arrived at the scene. Security was increased at the main entrance, manned by guards and police officers.

Many vehicles drove into the premises escorted by police vehicles flashing blue lights.

On Thursday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe was asked by journalists if the NEC delegates had been put under pressure by repeated calls from senior politicians to act on the alleged interference of the politically-connected Gupta family in decisions taken by Zuma and some of his Cabinet ministers.

Mantashe said the 90-member NEC was not under pressure at all.

“The NEC doesn’t work that way. The ANC is having a very important document called the constitution. It is not about the NEC working because who is the loudest [and] when. It doesn’t work that way,” Mantashe told reporters.

“The NEC works in terms of the [ANC] constitution and it executes its work in terms of what is expected of it, in terms of the constitution of the ANC. So there is no pressure.”

The NEC meeting got underway on Friday following a turbulent week for the ruling party.

Among others, Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas dropped a bombshell on Wednesday by confirming reports that the Gupta family had approached him to take over as finance minister a few days before Zuma fired Nhlanhla Nene from the post.

On Thursday, Zuma told Parliament that the Gupta family had never appointed any Cabinet minister.

“There is no minister who is here who was ever appointed by the Guptas or by anybody else,” he told the National Assembly.

Also this week, former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor said Zuma was present several years ago when the Guptas offered her the post of public enterprises minister, held at the time by Barbara Hogan.

African News Agency (ANA)

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