Freedom Day protests call for Zuma's resignation

Thursday’s protest coincided with Freedom Day celebrations marking 23rd anniversary of first multiracial elections

Freedom Day protests call for Zuma's resignation

World Bulletin / News Desk

Thousands of South Africans from different opposition parties gathered Thursday at a rally in capital Pretoria calling for the resignation of President Jacob Zuma.

A granddaughter of the late President Nelson Mandela addressed crowds at the rally pledging her solidarity with them.

"We are calling on our government to listen to our voices," Ndileka Mandela said amid loud cheers from the audience.

Protests against Zuma began three weeks ago when he replaced several high-profile ministers in a Cabinet reshuffle leading to tumbling of the country’s currency and stock markets. This caused losses in millions of U.S. dollars.

Zelda La Grange, a former private secretary of Nelson Mandela, also asked Zuma to listen to South Africans and quit. 

“Mandela was a person who listened to the people. We want to say Mr. President (Zuma) do the dignified thing, and listen to your people," she told the gathering.

Grange said South Africa wanted a president who respected the constitution and all the country’s citizens especially those suffering from poverty and unemployment.

"We want a president who respects himself enough to step down when people ask him to," she said, adding that if Zuma’s administration had stuck to Mandela’s 1994 plan, millions of South Africans would not be going to bed hungry.

Also called the M-plan, Mandela's plan was about integrity, transparency and good leadership, where leaders put their country first.

Mosiuoa Lekota, leader of the Congress of the People (COPE) told the rally that South Africa needed to be governed by a leader who knew he was a "people’s servant" and did not make "reckless decisions" that affected the country’s economy.

“We cannot have freedom in South Africa without respect for the constitution that Mandela signed," Lekota said.

Thursday’s protest coincided with the country’s Freedom Day celebrations which mark the 23rd anniversary of the first multiracial elections following the dismantling of the Apartheid regime in the country.

Zuma, who came to power in 2009, has been accused of several corruption scandals. He has, however, survived several no confidence votes in parliament because of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) majority in the National Assembly.

The South African parliament will soon debate a motion of no confidence against Zuma.

The ANC, which fought for the liberation of South Africa from white-minority rule, has been in power since the dawn of democracy in the country in 1994. The party is accused of shielding corrupt leaders and being divided along factions.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Nisan 2017, 18:50