As the ANC prepares to launch its local government election manifesto on Saturday, calls for President Jacob Zuma to resign continue. On Friday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) marched to the Constitutional Court as opposition groups and civil society try to maintain the pressure. By GREG NICOLSON and BHEKI C. SIMLANE
Rolling demonstrations against President Zuma continued on Friday as the DA marched to the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, where two weeks ago a unanimous judgment found Zuma and the National Assembly had failed to protect and uphold the Constitution in regards to the fallout over upgrades to the president’s private Nkandla home.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane addressed what the party said was 10,000 marchers, (but which looked closer to 5,000) calling the president and his cabinet tsotsis, warning further court action would be pursued if Zuma fails to adhere to the Nkandla judgment, and encouraging DA members to go door-to-door telling people that the ANC doesn’t respect the rule of law.
“She knew she was not just fighting against ‘small nyana skeletons’. She was fighting against big skeletons – the Guptas, the Jacob Zumas, the ANC,” said Maimane, who claimed the Public Protector, whose remedial actions on Nkandla were unconstitutionally ignored by Zuma and Parliament, had found corruption throughout the ANC government. “It was the DA who came here and said the powers of the Public Protector are binding.”
The Economic Freedom Fighters took the matter directly to the Constitutional Court, with the DA joining later, but the party had been seeking to define Thuli Madonsela’s powers through judgments in other courts on the SABC.
Maimane said Zuma doesn’t respect the rule of law and wants to benefit and protect himself and his party. “You can take your apology. We want the money,” he said. The Constitutional Court said Treasury must determine a value of Nkandla’s non-security upgrades for the president to pay and Zuma has agreed he will. The DA, however, said it’s not enough. “You can break the Constitution and apologise. Jacob Zuma must voetsek. Jacob Zuma must go,” said Maimane.
Photo: Leader of the Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, leads thousands of the Democratic Alliance (DA) supporters as they march through the streets of downtown Johannesburg during a protest march against South African President, Jacob Zuma, Johannesburg, South Africa, 15 April 2016. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK
A target only on Zuma might be seen as redeeming the ANC and the DA has recently blamed the party for the country’s challenges. “They’re united by ‘small nyana skeletons’,” said Maimane, referring to ANC Women’s League leader and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s warning for ANC members not to speak out against Zuma. “We want change in South Africa and change must begin with removing the ANC,” said Maimane.
The fallout from the Constitutional Court judgment comes as parties put their election campaigns into full force. The ANC is in Nelson Mandela Bay where it will launch its election manifesto on Saturday. While the Gauteng ANC Provincial Executive Committee has questioned Zuma’s leadership and suggested it might cost the province in the upcoming elections, there are far more party structures who have spoken out in support of the president. The ANC’s manifesto launch, and more importantly the election results, could be a test whether voters are concerned over the president’s scandals or, like Zuma has said in the past, it is all largely pushed by the media.
The DA’s march on Friday also saw other party leaders condemn the president. DA Gauteng leader shouted John Moodey, “Step down, Jacob Zuma, step down!” Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille said the Constitution must be protected “because in our country we are all equal before the law. Jacob Zuma is not above the law”.
After the court judgment against Zuma, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema called for people to demonstrate against the president. On Saturday, the People’s Consultative Assembly, the group of former ANC leaders and civil society actors, who denounced the president last week on the steps of the Constitutional Court, will hold a meeting in Johannesburg discussing its call for Zuma to resign. His failures are likely to be a feature when the DA holds its manifesto launch in Johannesburg next week and at the EFF’s manifesto launch at Orlando Stadium at the end of the month.
DA supporters said this year’s election will swing in the party’s favour. Many said the Constitutional Court judgement will have a huge impact on the upcoming elections because it has shaken people’s belief in the ANC and will help them see the need to make a difference on the ballot paper.
“I think the election has become more about Jacob Zuma. The massive crowd today is a demonstration of what the elections might be like. This sort of attendance carries with it a few pointers but the most important is that people are fed up. We can’t go on with cronyism, corruption and theft. I would hate to think what kind of legacy we are going to leave behind under such pathetic leadership. What message are we sending to the people of this country by defying the Constitutional Court?” said marcher Peter Stewart.
Mxolisi Mazibuko, a businessman from Pretoria, said he had supported the ANC for 36 years before joining the DA. He said he foresees a massive shift in allegiance as Zuma had forced many people to abandon the ANC because he won’t listen to the masses, nor the law.
“A lot more people are conscious now than ever before, especially since the Constitutional Court set the record straight. People have been hurt over and over again and instead of finding jobs, people are retrenched,” he said.
Ralph Chame, a DA councillor, said, “They won the last time. This time they will have zero percentage because the reason they won was because they bought voters. The DA does not buy voters, the DA provides.”
The ANC however will put up a fight and starting this weekend in Nelson Mandela Bay it will try to retain its huge support, in spite of the Constitutional Court’s judgment. DM
Main photo: Some of the thousands of Democratic Alliance (DA) members march through the streets of downtown Johannesburg during a protest march against South African President, Jacob Zuma, Johannesburg, South Africa, 15 April 2016. The DA are calling for the President to step down after the Constitutional Court ruled that he had broken the countries constitution by using public funds to do additions to his private house known as Nkandla. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK.
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