‘Zuma must behave or else ...’ Tens of thousands march to Union Buildings

2017-04-12 16:04

The capital was a sea of red, blue, yellow and white today as an estimated 100 000 people marched to the Union Buildings calling for President Jacob Zuma to step down.

This happened on the day that Zuma celebrated his 75th birthday.

The marchers from opposition parties and civil society groups initially gathered at Church Square in Pretoria before heading to the Union Buildings.

This was the third such mass gathering as calls mount for Zuma to quit.

Speakers also pointed out that “rolling mass action” would be staged across the country.

IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the stakes were too high for anybody to be passive.

He urged young people to search for the truth and not be misled by the ANC.

“Zuma has proven again that he’s not serving the interests of South Africa. Zuma must pack his bags and go.”

Hlengwa warned that if Zuma “doesn’t behave”, action would be taken to deprive his Nkandla homestead of water and other services.

Today’s mass protest comes ahead of a vote of no confidence in Zuma expected to take place on Tuesday.

UDM president Bantu Holomisa, who has been instrumental in organising the march by opposition parties, approached the courts to force Parliament to agree to a secret ballot.

Armed with sjamboks, sticks and flags, members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who dominated the proceedings were often called to discipline by the party’s leader Julius Malema.

The EFF had also brought in their personnel who were dressed in brown uniforms, camouflage and red berets.

They acted as Malema’s security, flanking his white Mercedes Benz as he entered Church Square and when he left.

Traffic was disrupted at the city centre as major streets leading to Church Square were cordoned off, and there was a heavy police presence around the Union Buildings.

Holomisa said citizens were concerned about corruption, poverty, lawlessness and the land issue.

The country’s economic performance was also a concern, especially with the recent downgrade to junk status.

He said the ANC remained unmoved and had become defensive.

“We cannot march forever; we must find a vehicle irrespective of political division. We need a summit on how to take South Africa forward. We need a programme when we go to Parliament to remove Zuma,” he said.

He said there was a need to go to KwaZulu-Natal “and say that this is not a no-go area – South Africa is ours”.

This was amid reports that protestors at a similar march in the province were intimidated.

Malema said there would be “rolling action” across the provinces and big cities would be targeted.

He decried Zuma’s claims that the mass demonstrations last Friday had racist elements.

He urged marchers not to get discouraged.

“We want these numbers again when we debate a motion of no confidence, when we say ‘enough is enough’. Revolution takes time.”

He said protestors would look back with pride on their contribution to reclaiming the country.

He thanked former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe for urging ANC Members of Parliament (MPs) to choose the country over the party when voting on the motion of no confidence.

ANC MPs who were “cowards” would now be protected and remain anonymous thanks to Holomisa’s strides, he said.

Malema also spoke about the alleged threat to Lindiwe Sisulu’s life.

He said a hitman was hired to kill her but did not go through with it and instead informed Sisulu.

“If she votes against them, what will happen to her? The court has got a responsibility to protect life. That’s all we are asking from the court and Mbete for a secret ballot,” Malema said.

DA national spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said Zuma had tried to divide marchers but failed.

“We all put out differences aside.”

DA Gauteng leader John Moodley said South Africa was resolute that Zuma woud not continue as president.

“This movement of the people is an expression of power. Zuma and the Guptas have robbed us dry. No amount of intimidation and threats will deter us people who want to be free.”

ANC MPs will have to put South Africa first, he said.

African People’s Convention leader Themba Godi said the country deserved better and public leadership required integrity.

“Poor people in villages and in shacks must come first.

The ruction in the ruling party is about who should loot first.”

Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota said South Africa belonged to all people – black and white.

He dismissed Zuma’s assertions that the protests had elements of racism.

Save SA convener Sipho Pityana said it was a proud moment for the country.

“We will fight until the last drop of our blood for our motherland. We are a movement marching peacefully and they must defend Zuma peacefully.”

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February 18 2018