By TJ Strydom and Mfuneko Toyana PRETORIA, Nov 2 : South African opposition parties, civic groups, unions and businesses marched in the capital Pretoria today in a protest against President Jacob Zuma and a string of scandals linked to him.
Hundreds of people gathered at various points in the city. Some chanted 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 today.
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 (ANC).
But 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.
“South Africans must … stand up against the anarchy of Zuma,” the radical leftist party Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which called for the marches as a show of force against Zuma, said on its official Twitter feed.
“Our supporters will make it loud and clear that we will not stand by and allow our hard-won democracy to be assaulted by Jacob Zuma,” the opposition Democratic Alliance party said in a statement.
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.
“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,” he told eNCA television.
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”. Zuma’s spokesman was not available for comment.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation – set up to guard the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela – yesterday blamed Zuma for the “wheels coming off” Africa’s most industrialised nation and urged a change in political leadership.
The president has shown no signs of stepping down before his second and final term as president is up in 2019, despite being rocked by corruption scandals that saw him suffer both financial and political damage.