Amanda Watson
News Editor
2 minute read
7 Apr 2017
2:29 pm

#AntiZumaMarches: Maimane tells South Africans ‘the time to act is now’

Amanda Watson

The DA leader said there is not going to be any more division.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane joins members of the DA as they protest outside the ANC's investment wing, Chancellor House Holdings in Sandton, 8 October 2015. They are protesting against what they call flagrant abuse of public money by the ANC, This after the agreement by Hitachi to pay $19-million to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to settle charges of corrupt payments to ANC's Chancellor House in order to secure Eskom tenders. Picture: Neil McCartney

Tens of thousands of South Africans who stood on roadsides, on bridges, outside their homes or marched in the streets in towns and cities around the country came back to news Fitch Ratings agency had downgraded South Africa’s senior unsecured foreign and local currency bonds to junk status.

It’s a step further than Standard & Poor’s, which only downgraded SA’s foreign currency bonds.

Fitch believed that “following the government reshuffle, fiscal consolidation will be less of a priority, given the president’s focus on ‘radical socioeconomic transformation’.”

It was precisely because of President Jacob Zuma’s recent midnight Cabinet reshuffle, in which Pravin Gordhan was axed finance minister and replaced by Malusi Gigaba, the minister of home affairs, that tens of thousands of South Africans took to the streets on Friday.

In Johannesburg, an estimated 10 000 people gathered for a short march organised by the DA to Mary Fitzgerald Square, where they were addressed by DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

“Fellow South Africans, it is today a historic moment for black, white, Indian and coloured people gathered here,” Maimane roared into his microphone. “I’ve never been so proud of you.

“Today is a defining moment in the history of our country,” Maimane added. “The moment when South Africans stood together against a corrupt president and his government. All around the country, hundreds of thousands of people are gathering to make their voice heard.”

His words will probably have stung ANC supporters at Luthuli House, where they had gathered to “protect” the ANC headquarters. Police reportedly used tear gas and rubber bullets to keep them away from the DA march, which ended peacefully.

Emotions have been running high since the reshuffle.

“We are marching because we don’t like Zuma, we want to fire him. We are sick of his corruption. We are sick of Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, he must go,” said Audrey Hlongwane, who took part in the protest.

Andrew Nemathandani, also a protester, believed South Africa was not being run very well. “He must step down so the DA can win the vote in 2019,” said Nemathandani.

Maimane said there is not going to be any more division. “We are going to rekindle the spirit of 1994. History will judge us harshly if we don’t deal with this moment. The time to act is now.”

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