In a show of support to opposition party leaders who participated in the no confidence vote in the National Assembly, members of the Economic Freedom Fighters marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to await the results of the motion of no confidence while in Soweto streets were blocked with burning tyres and stones as pupils protested. By ORATENG LEPODISE and BHEKI C. SIMELANE.
“We are saying Zuma must fall and he must fall now,” said EFF regional chairman Benjamin Disoloane.
Disoloane was among hundreds of EFF supporters who converged on the Capital on Tuesday morning ahead of the afternoon’s motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma debate and vote.
“He should know that Tshwane is not his home,” said Disoloane, promising that they would make sure that Zuma knows that he is not welcomed in the capital city.
Several similar marches took place around the country in anticipation of Tuesday’s vote which National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete announced on Monday would take place through secret ballot.
The Speaker’s decision brought hope to opposition parties who believed that a secret vote would see more ANC MPs voting in favour of the opposition motion.
In June the Constitutional Court ruled that Mbete had the constitutional power to decide whether a secret ballot could be held in the motion and urged her to make a rational decision over whether MPs would vote by secret ballot. “There must always be a proper and rational basis for whatever the choice the Speaker makes,” said Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in his unanimous ruling.
Photo: An EFF protester leads the crowd in song. Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee.
“I am happy that the motion of no confidence vote will be done by way of secret ballot; this will mean that no one will be afraid to vote against Zuma. It is time for Zuma to go, he has overstayed his time,” said Oamogetswe Mogashoa, a community member. Mogashoa said she was tired of corruption and that this was the first step to getting rid of corruption in South Africa. “Zuma must fall and the Guptas must fall with him,” Mogashoa said.
The march brought much needed business to hawkers in the area. “I am just glad that today I will have better profit as a lot of people are supporting me,” said Mulisa Matshila, a street vendor.
The EFF marched from Church Square to the Union Buildings where they waited for the outcome of the no confidence vote.
“We are not happy with the things Zuma does,” said Mighty Mnisi, a member of the EFF.
“This is our country and he cannot be doing whatever he likes, the people have spoken and he must step down now,” said Lebogang Manaka, a resident of Daveyton, Pretoria.
Across the Jukskei in Soweto, residents took to the streets early on Tuesday morning and blockaded roads with burning tyres and rocks to voice their support for the motion of no confidence.
Photo: EFF members sing anti-Zuma and pro-Julius Malema songs near the Maponya Mall while they waited for a bus to take them to Braamfontein. Photo: Bheki C. Simelane
Several schools around Meadowlands closed early with principals fearing for the safety of the learners after protesters wearing EFF T-shirts told pupils to go home.
Meadowlands Secondary School pupil, Amukelani Chauke, 16, said they were told to go home by EFF members at 09:00. Chauke and his two friends said they could tell that the group were EFF members because they were were wearing EFF T-shirts.
“We saw them speak to the principal; thereafter the principal called us together and told us to go home as it was not safe to remain at school,” he said.
The EFF denied they were behind the school closures.
Khindlimukani Secondary School pupil Freddie Chikwba said, “We should be learning. It’s really sad that a political situation is allowed to affect our school work.”
Parent Paul Moleko said although he was very angry, he was not surprised that yet again political unrest was being allowed to affect their children’s education.
“Who are we?…We are nobodies,” said Moleko, adding that he was not a member of any political party.
“We are serving politicians’ interests, what about our own interests? They use us for their own good, and when it suits them, they dump us. Even if Zuma goes, which can happen at any time, then what? We will still starve as before,” Moleko said.
Despite the protests and marches, Zuma survived Tuesday’s secret ballot with 198 votes being cast against the motion, 177 for and nine absentions. DM
Photo: EFF members calling for President Jacob Zuma to step down as they leave Church Square and make their way to the Union Buildings. Photo: IHSAAN HAFFEJEE