11 April 2017

South Africa: The Day Citizens Took to the Streets

Journalism students share their thoughts

As many as 60,000 South Africans took to the streets on Friday to deliver a clear anti-Zuma message. There was heavy police presence in the major metros throughout the day and a few skirmishes were reported outide Luthuli House, as well as outside the Gupta home in Saxonworld. University of Johannesburg (UJ) students, Magnificent Mndebele, Lauren Pillay and Palesa Mlambo, share their thoughts on where our country is headed.

Lauren Pillay, (23) Journalism student, UJ

The streets of Johannesburg were eerily quiet early on Friday morning but the police presence was heavy. When I arrived in the city centre at 8am there were already SAPS vehicles at every four way stop, even though Gandhi Square was still empty. But by 10am, thousands of South African citizens filled up the square and the rest of Joburg CBD to march against President Jacob Zuma. All races and creeds gathered with an overwhelming sense of unity and for the first time I saw a glimpse of a South Africa that future generations would be proud of, a South Africa that may finally heal from the past and start planning for the future. The March from Gandhi Square to Mary Fitzgerald Square created a platform for South Africans to have their voices heard. In between police trucks people marched, sang the national anthem and struggle songs. There were also prayers by religions leaders and politicians. DA leader Musi Maimane addressed the anti-Zuma marches, "This is just the beginning of many marches to come," he said. Finally we have come to the point where we realise as South African's if we do not take a stand, the country could face a troubling future.

Magnificent Mndebele (20) Journalism student, UJ

The message was clear last Friday- "Zuma must fall" and "The Gupta's must fall" MK soldiers came out in droves to defend Zuma and stationed themselves outside Luthuli House. ANC supporters carried placards with slogans such as "I'm prepared to die for my ANC" and "Hands off our leader". The spirit of loyalty to the ANC was unwavering, complete with t-shirts of the smiling president, whistles, singing struggle songs and dancing. This sparked fear in me. This is more than loyalty to the ANC. In this kleptocracy anyone who speaks out is threatened and criticized. The true meaning of our democracy will be tested in 2019.

Palesa Mlambo (22) Journalism student, UJ

The streets of Johannesburg were packed and residents came out in their numbers. The air was filled with the spirit of solidarity and unity. I spoke to some of those protesting. A woman from Soweto, Mthuthukazi Ncgobo, said she was tired of the uncertainties that came with Zuma, she believes that the country needs stability. Solly Seshoshe from Alexander, said that the president is just not producing results and that Gordhan worked hard and improved the economy. He emphasised that what we need to focus on now is the wellbeing of our country. It was interesting to hear these views. All we need now is a response from the president himself.

Lauren Pillay is a third year journalism student at the University of Johannesburg. She believes that sharing stories can help educate the populace about current and historical events, helping them make decisions pertaining to the democracy we enjoy today.

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