We’ve heard what some of the ANC bigwigs and leaders of civil society organisations think of President Jacob Zuma’s midnight reshuffle, but what do ordinary South Africans have to say? BHEKI C SIMELANE, ANTOINETTE MULLER and LEILA DEE DOUGAN took to the streets of Johannesburg and Cape Town to find out.
Delani Mgaza, 29, fitness instructor
Jacob Zuma is not a president, he is a dictator. He doesn’t have the interests of the people of this country at heart. He does not care about this country. Take Malusi Gigaba for instance, the guy doesn’t know the first thing about the finance portfolio, but he now ministers our money. Gigaba was rewarded for his loyalty to Zuma rather than what he can do for our finances. Imagine! The ANC Secretary-General, Gwede Mantashe, and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, did not know. Mantashe has done everything to protect Zuma, so this must feel nice. The ANC is taking the people of this country for fools. If he wanted to convince the nation that he did the right thing by reshuffling his Cabinet, he should have fired the likes of Faith Muthambi and Bathabile Dlamini. He needs to step down and save the little dignity that he has left. He has refused to step down before, but he should see that the exit is narrowing, he needs to get out quickly before it closes on him. Zuma is a torturer. (Thabo) Mbeki was recalled for something far too minor, what’s so special about this man of destruction?
Hendrik Nofemele, 25, student
The South African economy has been very stable under (Pravin) Gordhan. Removing such a man cannot be a game, unless, of course, you are Zuma. By removing Gordhan, Zuma has put this country in a bad state of economic uncertainty. I think that Zuma has done more than enough harm. Anyone who replaces him would be better than this man. His leadership has come under harsh criticism constantly, but that does not seem to bother him. Zuma must go now. We can no longer afford a president who thrives in failure. He hates committed leaders like Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas. There is no time like the present to get rid of Zuma, but we all know what “my ANC” will do. Zuma must vacate the Union Buildings and let the country heal from his madness.
Kgomotso Tshabalala, 26, receptionist
You would expect, after the media predicted the reshuffle a long time ago, that Zuma would reverse his decision just to prove everyone wrong just this once, but no, not Zuma. Gigaba is no different from Des van Rooyen. They both got the nod because Zuma knows they are important in pursuing the ambitions of the Guptas. Zuma has plundered South Africa, and he must now go. We have had enough of the man. Zuma is a dictator and all the ANC MPs and ministers are his puppets. They have disrespected the people of this country greatly by failing to rein Zuma in while they still could. Let’s get our voices out there. Let’s organise and overthrow Zuma’s small kingdom of thieves. Let’s crush this rot the same way we crushed apartheid. This nightmare can’t be allowed to go on. The ANC can give us somebody else as long as it is not this man. He must now be forcefully removed.
Margaret Manase, 44, mail processor
Wow, Zuma has really outdone himself his time. Couldn’t he at least go back on his decision to fire Minister Gordhan and prove all those people who predicted it wrong? What a dodgy president the ANC gifted us. Their gift is a curse. This man is the source of our current problems in the country. I truly appreciate that there are still other media houses that can let us air our views. Zuma is corrupt, his ANC is corrupt. We register for houses and they give them to foreigners, so I am not shocked by Zuma’s changes to Cabinet. He is lining up his friends so that he can milk the Treasury. This time he should not be allowed. We need to down tools and face him as a nation, otherwise we will lose this country. If he cannot be impeached, he must be removed forcefully by us as a nation.
Boas Shibambo, 65, pensioner
How can he shuffle the Cabinet like that without consulting his comrades? But, we are talking about comrades who have stood by Zuma when no other reasonable person would. It serves them right that Zuma did not inform them about his decision to reshuffle his Cabinet. Zuma and his Guptas are holding our country to ransom. He does not have the interests of this country, but his cronies, the Gupta family’s, at heart. Zuma is running the country down the same way that (Robert) Mugabe did in Zimbabwe. His time has come. Zuma must be impeached. The people who previously opposed this should be ashamed to bring us such a shame of a president. Zuma must step down. He must just leave now before he does any further damage to the country. The ANC should stop complaining that he never consulted with them.
Pitso Malebo, 34, unemployed
Zuma is a joke! He has no conscience. After speculation that he was going to fire the Minister of Finance, he goes right ahead and does it anyway. Zuma is a liability to this country’s future investment opportunities… He chose the Guptas over the people of this country. It doesn’t matter if it is Gigaba or Brian Molefe, the fact is that he has replaced Gordhan with Gigaba. Gigaba is his lapdog. What does he know about (the) Treasury? Gigaba is just there to help Zuma achieve his goal of handing over the country to the Guptas. South Africans need to gather and stand up to Zuma. Enough is enough! I haven’t voted since 2009 because I realised this man is messing up the ANC. Cyril Ramaphosa would make a far better president.
Zoliswa Seleke, 38, unemployed
This Cabinet reshuffle has shown why Zuma cannot be trusted with anything. Instead of calling off his planned Cabinet reshuffle he goes ahead and announces it. This is really bad for this country’s investment opportunities. Investors will never trust us. His actions always tend to scare investors. All we need to do now is move a motion of no confidence in the president and hope this time it gets the necessary support. If the ANC is saying they are also unhappy, then they must act. Zuma has greatly undermined them by not consulting with them. The man is running the country like a spaza shop. The ANC is in chaos. By their failure to discipline Zuma previously, they emboldened him. Now he thinks he is untouchable. The ANC has forgotten about our mandate as a people of this country and are concerned about filling their own pockets. In over 22 years of democracy, the ANC has failed. Zuma must be impeached urgently and replaced with someone who can get us back on the right path.
Jabulani Magaza, 38, unemployed
Zuma’s latest Cabinet reshuffle is by no means meant to make our country better. He is just making sure that he advances the Gupta agenda to the end because he would rather work for the Guptas than South Africa. The Guptas. That is where Zuma’s loyalties lie. We appreciate the opportunity to voice our concerns because we never get the chance. Things will go from bad to worse with Zuma’s new guard. He has basically adopted Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship style. Yet, some leaders still think such a man should have a statue erected in his honour. At what cost, and to whom? This ANC government is not serious about improving this country but running it into the ground. They all must be stopped. As for Zuma, he must be impeached. If that fails again, we must embark on a massive nationwide boycott.
Chris Louw, 39
The guy must go. He’s outta here. This Friday we’re going to march. We’re gonna be there, Zuma must fall! It’s time to make a new plan. It’s time for the citizens to stand up and say their say, because it’s far enough now. We’re over it. We’ve been over it a long time ago. The only good news last week was that maybe in two years we can legalise weed. If you look on social media, nobody’s going to go to work apparently [on Friday]. I was also at last year’s Zuma Must Fall march, it was right after the cannabis march. People are gonna come together and show this man: we are sick of your shit.
Leticia Afrika, 25, business owner
I thought Zuma was crazy. Yesterday, when I got home and put on the news, I saw that we had junk status. I thought it was ridiculous. They should just fire this man. Junk status doesn’t just affect the rich people, it affects all South Africa. On Friday, I am going to march. I need to stand up against people trying to pull our country down.
Clive van Graan, 62, retired
It makes me very sad to see that the country is not going forward as we were fighting for our freedom and for our rights. We’ve come to this point where people who know what it’s like to be oppressed are oppressing us more. I think Jacob Zuma should step down. He’s had his turn. He should make place for new blood and new ideas. At the moment, the country is following his footsteps. Today, everybody is committing fraud because it’s legal, because the leader is corrupt.
Grant Appolis, 43, upholsterer
I think it’s a fantastic idea to try and do something about Zuma. Because if the government can’t do anything, us as the people have to do something. At the end of the day, we’re all going to sit with no work. The way he reshuffled the Cabinet is crazy. Somebody who couldn’t even run Home Affairs properly is now Minister of Finance. I can’t see the right in that.
Obinna Nwachukwu, 36, filmmaker
I’ve been in South Africa for close to a year now. There are many challenges in the political space. In my country [Nigeria], we have our own war we are fighting. Here, there is also a political war that is going on. I believe the country is going through a lot of challenges. Every country goes through these challenges before they come to maturity and begin to stabilise. Whoever is elected into power does not have it easy. I think Jacob Zuma is trying in his own way. Maybe the people should let him try. The people he is leading with are also contributing to what is happening.
Clement Fleurs, 40, delivery driver
I think Jacob Zuma must get off the chair. I can’t see that he is doing good for the community and his country. I only heard about the Cabinet reshuffle the next morning because I went to sleep early, but I think they must make a real decision on Zuma.
Jared Pearl, 47, oil business
In England we’ve had our own disruption over the last year which is very unusual for us. We’ve got the most complicated 10 years coming up that we’ve had in probably 50 or 100 years with Brexit. I wasn’t 100% surprised to see the news about the reshuffle, because he’s been trying to defend himself for a year now against those who want him gone. I think he’s letting down the people who fought apartheid. I think he’s trying to flush out people who think that he’s a risk and replace them with people who will say yes to him all the time. Zuma is corrupt, that’s not even under question, he should go. It’s a great shame because he’s actually taking wealth away from the people. (Jared’s young daughter added: “I don’t really know much. I just know that he’s bad and he took the money”.)
JP Harris, 69, business owner
Jacob Zuma is overdue to go. There’s so much corruption that I feel he feels that this is his own country to do as he pleases and dip into the kitty as he pleases. As far as pulling Pravin Gordhan, I think we all know that he thought Gordhan was the stumbling block in the nuclear deal with Russia. He took Gordhan out because “Gigabyte” as I call him was the perfect lackey. I’m rallying my family and we are all hitting the streets on Friday. I want to say to all the people: If Europe can do it and take out an unsavoury government in 48 hours, we certainly can do it as well.
Luigi Pirkmeir, 70, martial arts instructor
I am from Italy, but I visit South Africa often. The Cabinet reshuffle makes me afraid to invest money in South Africa. What do I think of Jacob Zuma? – No comment, because I don’t want to use bad language. The guy is super, super crafty. He knows all the shortcuts to criminality, it’s not good for the country. I think he should resign, but he won’t, of course. I mean, why would he? He gets all the money.
I think Jacob Zuma should resign immediately and then South Africa needs to go on a massive promotional exercise. My concern is that the man on the street doesn’t know what this means. We cannot afford more unemployment. We need to stand together and be strong. Forget about these silly arguments on little issues that’s coming up with Zille and all those other stories, deal with the real issues. It’s frightening. I’m a business person and I’m actually very concerned. We cannot afford for our country to suffer the way it is. DM
While we have your attention...
An increasingly rare commodity, quality independent journalism costs money - though not nearly as much as its absence.
Every article, every day, is our contribution to Defending Truth in South Africa. If you would like to join us on this mission, you could do much worse than support Daily Maverick's quest by becoming a Maverick Insider.
Click here to become a Maverick Insider and get a closer look at the Truth.
One of the largest carp ever caught on record was done so using the ashes of the fisherman's deceased friend.