7 August 2017

South Africa: Diverse Groups Unite in Call for Zuma to Go

Thousands march to Parliament, including ANC allies Cosatu and SACP

Several thousand people took to the streets of Cape Town on Monday under the banner of #UniteBehind. They called for the ANC to recall President Jacob Zuma.

The march to Parliament comes the day before the vote of no confidence in Zuma. The protesters were members of dozens of civil society organisations, and included farm workers, school children, religious leaders and ANC members.

Outside Parliament, the protesters were addressed by former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas who said that South Africans could either submit or fight. "As South Africans we fought very hard to be where we are. We cannot allow our freedom to be sold as cheaply as it is being sold," he said.

"We made a mistake after 1994. We made a serious mistake. We demobilised our communities. We demobilised society as a whole, because we pinned our hopes to liberators and political parties. And that was possibly the most dangerous historical mistake that we made as a country," said Jonas.

"We must consolidate a mass movement in this country that continues to hold everyone in power, from local government right up to national government, accountable," he said. "We must take the future of this country away from those who are abusing it."

Amahle Gengqiwe, a grade 11 learner, told the crowd that if Zuma isn't recalled then they would come back to Parliament and "liberate the people of South Africa".

"If Zuma doesn't step down how will Nyanga ever change?" she asked. She questioned how their schools would ever be improved if Zuma isn't recalled. "Let us stand together dear MPs, and make sure you remove him from that seat," she said to much applause.

The march was also supported by Cosatu as well as the SACP, both historical alliance partners of the ANC. "We stand with you to remove this thief from inside our Parliament," said Tony Ehrenreich, the regional secretary of the Western Cape region of Cosatu. "When people came together before 1994 they fought for a country that represents all our people, where black and white and all of our religions could come together and we could build the kind of land where our children could prosper. The only children who prosper now are Jacob Zuma's children," he said.

While many marchers wore T-shirts and held banners denoting their support for a particular civil society organisation or movement, they were united in their condemnation of Zuma and the corruption that they believe has followed him throughout his tenure as president.

When marchers were informed that the vote of no confidence will be held via a secret ballot, they shouted in jubilation.

Maria Balie, a farm worker from De Doorns, told GroundUp that the whole Cabinet must be changed. "The reason I am here is because they don't see us anymore. They don't see the farm workers anymore," said Balie.

Zandile Komani, a SACP member, told GroundUp said that she doesn't want the people to be oppressed by Zuma anymore. "[He] must save his dignity and step down." She was also opposed to the possibility of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma replacing Jacob Zuma, saying that the ANC is a "not a family party, it is a democratic party."

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