SHAFAQNA – Thousands of South Africans have staged a protest in the capital Pretoria, demanding the resignation of President Jacob Zuma.
The protesters gathered at a central square in Pretoria and started to march on the Union Buildings, the official seat of government, on Wednesday, marking Zuma’s 75th birthday.
The rally united rival parties as supporters of the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), and smaller parties showed up to protest.
Mavis Madisha, a 37-year-old EFF supporter, said, “I came because Zuma has to step down. He sold the country. I don’t want him anymore.”
The march followed nationwide anti-Zuma protests last week that were triggered by the recent dismissal of respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
Zuma’s firing of Gordhan fanned public anger over government corruption and mismanagement, record unemployment and slowing economic growth.
Zuma, who came to power in 2009, slammed last week’s mass protests as racist.
Demonstrators on Wednesday held signs reading “Zuma must fall”, “Hamba tsotsi” (“Go away thief”), and “Zuma liar”.
Wednesday’s march comes ahead of a no confidence vote against Zuma in parliament scheduled for April 18.
The president has easily survived previous parliamentary votes against him due to the ruling African National Congress (ANC)’s majority.
The ruling party vowed to defeat a no-confidence vote against Zuma in parliament. The vote, however, may be delayed due to a legal challenge over whether it should be conducted by secret ballot.
“At this moment of crisis, we, as political parties, put our differences aside for one common cause — to save South Africa from Jacob Zuma,” John Moodey, DA leader in Gauteng province, said.
“(Zuma’s supporters) will do everything to stay in power, even intimidating MPs. With a secret ballot, we could put Zuma out by a huge majority,” Moodey added.
“Even if it doesn’t succeed, I can guarantee you that we will have a coalition government in 2019.”
Zuma is due to step down as national president ahead of the 2019 general election.