pressure mounts on Zuma to leave office

President Jacob Zuma

Pretoria, Wednesday

Rival South African opposition parties joined forces today when several thousand demonstrators marched through the capital Pretoria calling for President Jacob Zuma to resign.

The march to Union Buildings, the official seat of government, was organised on Zuma’s 75th birthday and came after nationwide rallies against the president last week.

Zuma’s recent sacking of respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan has fanned years of public anger over government corruption scandals, record unemployment and slowing economic growth.

Supporters of the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), and smaller parties mingled at Wednesday’s demonstration in a display of unity.

Police said the event had begun peacefully.

“I came because Zuma has to step down. He sold the country. I don’t want him anymore,” Mavis Madisha, a supporter, told AFP.

To defeat

Gordhan’s sacking triggered unprecedented criticism from senior figures within the ruling African National Congress (ANC), including from Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The ANC has since tried to close ranks behind Zuma and has vowed to defeat a no-confidence vote against him in parliament.

The vote is scheduled for next Tuesday but may be delayed due to a legal tussle over whether it should be a secret ballot.

“At this moment of crisis, we, as political parties, put our differences aside for one common cause — to save South Africa from Jacob Zuma,” said John Moodey, DA leader in Gauteng province, which includes Pretoria and Johannesburg.

“(Zuma’s supporters) will do everything to stay in power, even intimidating MPs. With a secret ballot, we could put Zuma out by  a huge majority.                            —AFP

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