Opposition leads protest against Zuma in South Africa
South African opposition parties, civic groups, unions and businesses on Wednesday marched in Pretoria in a protest against President Jacob Zuma and a string of scandals linked to him.
Reports said hundreds of people gathered at various points in the city, while some were chanting outside a court where Zuma’s application to delay the release of a report over allegations of political influence by his wealthy friends was due to be heard.
Critics said since taking office in 2009, Zuma, 74, has survived several corruption scandals almost unscathed, with the backing of top echelons of the ruling African National Congress.
They said South Africa has had to bear the cost as the economy has stagnated and investors worry about its political stability, business climate and rule of law.
The radical leftist party, Economic Freedom Fighters, called on the South Africans to urgently stand up against the anarchy of Zuma.
They said: “The marches must be seen as a show of force against Zuma.”
The opposition Democratic Alliance party also said in a statement that its supporters would make it loud and clear that we would not stand by and allow our hard-won democracy to be assaulted by Jacob Zuma.
Paul Mashatile, Chairman of ANC’s Gauteng province which includes Pretoria and the economic hub of Johannesburg, said his group would take part in the marches, even without the blessing of the national party.
Mashatile said: “I do not have the mandate to say the president must step down, but I can say we are against all the wrong things that are happening, including corruption.”
Mashatile said the party had to change after it suffered its worst losses since it won the first post-apartheid election in 1994.
The ANC’s spokesman Zizi Kodwa said “we are not party to the marches”.
Meanwhile, the Nelson Mandela Foundation set up to guard the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela has on Tuesday blamed Zuma for the “wheels coming off” and urged a change in political leadership.
Observers said the president has shown no signs of stepping down before his second and final term as president is up in 2019, in spite being rocked by corruption scandals that saw him suffer both financial and political damage.