Convenor of the #ZumaMustGo protest Hangwi Maumela explains why protesters failed to turn up for the march. Maumela says their members had been intimidated by an armed group in a bakkie. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA

Pretoria - Organisers of the #ZumaMustGo protest, aimed at pressuring President Jacob Zuma to resign, on Monday said their members had been intimidated by “a group of armed thugs”.

Hangwi Maumela, convenor of the #ZumaMustGo movement, was at Burgers Park in Pretoria CBD where the “national shutdown” was supposed to kick off. He was with a small group of less than 10 people. After talking to journalists, they all left the park.

“There was a bakkie and a Kombi. It was an H1 Hyundai white bakkie that came with firearms...,” Maumela said as he addressed journalists.

“We don’t know who they are. We are going to report the matter in a police station.”

Maumela said the organisers of the march were fearing for their own safety, and needed more police presence.

Read: #ZumaMustGo march to Union Buildings is unlawful, warn police

“We saw the firearms. It was not just one firearm. We know that it was a rented group. They were sent,” he said.

Several journalists who were at the scene, including African News Agency reporters, said they had not seen the said vehicles.

Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA

Earlier on Monday, the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) warned drivers in and around the central business district to exercise caution in the wake of the “illegal” protest march by a group calling themselves concerned members of the African National Congress (ANC) who are  demanding the ouster of embattled head of state Zuma.

“Tshwane Metro Police Department received a formal application from allies of the African National Congress for a national march scheduled for Monday. In respect of this march, the TMPD could not approve the march, as certain requirements of the Regulation of Gatherings Act 205 could not be submitted in due time,” spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said. 

“Please note that should the march proceed, it will be regarded as an illegal activity. However, TMPD officers will be deployed to monitor the march, and all affected streets. Some of the major routes coming to Tshwane may also be affected.”

The TMPD was informed that the marchers were planning to arrive in Pretoria from all parts of South Africa using buses. They plan to march from Pretoria CBD, to the seat of the South African government, the Union Buildings. 

On Sunday, the #ZumaMustGo protest organisers, led by Maumela, announced a "national shutdown" which they said would cripple Pretoria through demonstrations from Monday in a bid to put pressure on Zuma to quit. 

The group of “concerned ANC members” from different regions in Gauteng claimed they would use all possible means to get Zuma out of the Union Buildings.

“We are being in the forefront because we love our movement. We love our organisation. Even if it means that we are [going to be] arrested, or beaten, or killed - we are ready for it tomorrow [Monday]. And we are not going to leave the Union Buildings, by the way, until he resigns,” Maumela said on Sunday.

“That is what we are going to do. We have made arrangements... we are sitting with about 60 buses now, and we know that before the end of the day, today [Sunday], we could be having 100 buses [coming to Pretoria]. We want thousands and thousands of people to come to this march. We are also going to be joined by a Pakistani group.”

Maumela said aggrieved ANC members would pull “the enemy” Zuma physically from the government offices if need be.

“We are coming to the Union Buildings tomorrow [Monday], and we are not apologetic about it. We are ready for everything. We have sat down with the police and all the leaders in Tshwane,” said Maumela. 

"We will address the people to say, do not give up on the ANC, we just have one enemy. We will root out that enemy. If it means we have to go the office and remove him, we will do that. 

"We cannot be defeated by a group of thugs ... tsotsis ... people whose intention is to corrupt this organisation. We are not afraid, even if the BLF come, we are ready. If they come with firearms, we will beat them physically.”

The ANC has distanced itself from the march and has called for disciplinary action against any of it members involved in the planned march. Regional spokesperson Jolidee Matongo has asked party members and supporters to ignore the call.

ANC alliance partner - the South African Communist Party - which has been calling for Zuma to step down for several months, also disowned the march.

On Monday morning, several members of the South African Police Service and the TMPD were at the Union Buildings.

African News Agency/ANA