Residents from all walks of life in Nelson Mandela Bay showed up at Vuyisile Mini Sqaure in their numbers and thunderously called for President Jacob Zuma's head.
Fired Mcebesi Jonas was unable to attend the rally but Pityana wholeheartedly thanked the former Deputy Finance Minister for exposing a "corrupt leader". Jonas and his boss Pravin Gordhan were dropped from the Cabinet in the middle of the night on Thursday in a reshuffle that affected 10 ministries.
Since then the backlash has been severe – top members of the ruling ANC, including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, have criticised the removal of Gordhan as finance minister. The rand went into freefall soon after the reshuffle. Ratings agencies have already reacted. On Monday, S&P Global downgraded South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to junk status.
"The president has sold the ANC and its great values, he has sold our country out and we must thank Mcebisi Jonas for exposing the rot and making the formal investigation possible. We must thank him for taking a stand to defend our revolution and our freedom... to end the wrath of a corrupt leader that Jacob Zuma is, that's why he was fired," Pityana said.
Pityana said the nation had been rudely awakened to what state capture was all about and the firing of Gordhan and Jonas further created "fertile conditions" for Gupta "thieves".
He was scathing on the appointment of newly sworn in Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and said the recent cabinet reshuffle was merely a "Gupta Coup".
Speaking with no filter, Pityana said the firing of Gordhan and Jonas, based on the pretext of a so called intelligence report, was "not worth the paper it was written on".
"Look at who he replaces him with, the same Malusi Gigaba that appointed Brian Molefe to Transnet... It was during Malusi Gigaba's tenure that state-owned enterprises were plunged into unprecedented governance, chaos and mayhem. Remember he is the one who allegedly made conditions to auditors at Eskom that they must fire Vusi Pikoli from that firm because he feared (Pikoli's) honesty and integrity," he said.
"That is what is confronting us today, a leader whom we elected to be a president of our country, has arrogated to himself and himself alone a prerogative and illegitimate right to sell our hard earned freedom to the Gupta's and the clique of corrupt and greedy cronies in exchange for money for himself, his family and friends. We will not allow that!" Pityana proclaimed to a roaring crowd.
Also addressing the crowd was former ANC MP Judy Chalmers, who slated Zuma, saying "we never thought we would fight for the soul of our party. But here we are. Down with Zuma".
Chalmers said that junk status would not affect "Zuma and his cronies" because he had made sure their "coffers were full". "We never dreamtthat in a short three decades we would be gathering once more in a desperate struggle to free our land from the clutches of a greedy, heartless cabal... But here we are today and fight we must to regain," said Chalmers.
The younger generation were also scathing of Zuma – including a member from the ANCYL in Nelson Mandela Bay, Anele Madosi, who told the crowd that Zuma was selling the country for a plate of curry.
"We are busy focusing on the hashtag that Zuma must fall. We are sick and tired of having a president who sold our country over a plate of curry. We are a laughing stock to the people of the world. The USA, they can't stop laughing at us. Zimbabwe next door. They complained that (Robert) Mugabe was a dictator, why don't you remove Zuma if he is a dictator? It's time now to rise South Africa!"
#SaveSouthAfrica is in the process of organising a big march on Friday from Treasury to the Union Buildings. According to the movement, it will be the biggest march that Zuma has ever seen.