Hundreds of people started gathering in South Africa’s capital to call for President Jacob Zuma to resign, the second such demonstration in less than a week. The rand strengthened.
At least 10 000 people were expected to take part in the march in Pretoria led by civil-rights groups and seven opposition parties including the Economic Freedom Fighters and the Democratic Alliance, Johannesburg-based broadcaster eNCA reported, citing the police.
During the speeches, it was reported that police put the number of marchers at 120 000.
The so-called National Day of Action protests was scheduled to coincide with Zuma’s 75th birthday.
The rally signaled heightened public opposition to Zuma since his decision to fire Pravin Gordhan as finance minister and make 19 other changes to his administration on March 31 drew widespread criticism, prompted S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings to downgrade the nation’s international credit rating to junk. A series of marches last week drew tens of thousands in cities including Johannesburg, the economic hub, Pretoria and Cape Town.
“I’m here to support my leadership and fight for my freedom –Zuma must fall,” said Precious Nqumalo, a 39-year-old mother of two who said she came to the march straight after ending her night shift as a cleaner on the Gautrain rail service to the international airport outside Johannesburg. “We need change because Zuma doesn’t care about the people of South Africa. He only cares about himself, his family and the people close to him.”
The rand gained 0.7% to 13.7076 per dollar by 11:54am in Johannesburg on Wednesday, the biggest advance among 31 emerging-market and major currencies tracked by Bloomberg. By 13:12 the rand was up 0.49% to the dollar at 13.7299, up 0.52% at 17.1271 to the pound, and 0.62% to the euro at 14.5535.
Zuma, who’s due to step down as leader of the ruling African National Congress in December and whose term as the nation’s president ends in 2019, has survived a series of corruption scandals and presided over the party’s worst electoral performance since the end of apartheid in 1994 in municipal elections in August.
The government decided to reschedule a meeting between Zuma and Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Al Thani, to Tuesday night to avoid the embarrassment of the march to his offices in Pretoria, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.
A parliamentary vote on a no-confidence motion in Zuma scheduled for April 18 may have to be delayed after the Constitutional Court said final submissions in a court case seeking a secret ballot are due three days later.
While opposition parties have urged the National Assembly to delay the vote until after court ruling, parliament said DA leader Mmusi Maimane would have to withdraw the motion because he submitted it.
Listen to Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota’s interview with Moneyweb at the march below:
Listen to the EFF’s Dali Mpofu on what they are hoping to achieve below:
National Day of Action in Pictures
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