Jacob Zuma Protest

The Anti-Zuma marches and protests were a huge success however it doesn’t mean Zuma will be removed from office, that said the marches still mattered! Here is why…

 

On the 7th of April 2017, South Africans from every demographic came together hand in hand and raised their voices for one thing… for Zuma to step down and be made accountable for his actions.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters demanding the resignation of President Jacob Zuma took to the streets in pickets, marches and human chains across South Africa on Friday.

Many were protesting for the first time ever in civil action sparked by Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle, which saw the finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas fired. The rand fell against the US dollar and S&P and Fitch downgraded the country’s credit ratings to “junk status”.

Bloemfontein, Durban, Mbombela, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town were the main centres of marches.

The Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula put the number of marchers at around 60 000 countrywide although the official Cape Town count is already sitting on 110 000 and Pretoria over 40 000.

Ralph Mathekga is one of South Africa’s leading political analysts who believes that while the marches might not get the president out immediately, they definitely matter and have created a platform for change.

Mathekga taught politics at the University of the Western Cape and worked as a senior policy analyst at the National Treasury, he is also the author of the book ‘When Zuma Goes’.

“It’s not about having a single objective but about driving a message and people saying they matter as shareholders in South Africa’s democracy to a point where they’re willing to raise those concerns in a public forum such as on the streets.”

While he doesn’t believe Zuma will be removed by the marches, he does believe they were important as they “constitute the breath and lifeline of SA’s democracy”.

“It’s not about removing Zuma now but about people saying they have an opinion about his leadership. That’s how I see those marches.”

“It’s up to the ANC to reflect on how far they’re willing to go in supporting Zuma at an expense of the party losing confidence as far as the people are concerned.”

And recently some countries have proven the success and importance of mobilising a vast number of people.

In November 2016, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, to protest against the presidency of Park Geun-hye. By March 2017, she was out of office, ousted by a parliamentary impeachment and a constitutional court ruling.

Mass demonstrations, encompassing students, workers, civic organisations, and opposition political parties have been a fixture of Korean life for decades, and the so-called Candlelight Protests that brought down Park were the same.

Thanks to the immunity that the president enjoys in South Korea, it was not possible for her to be tried for this corruption without being deposed. Hence the massive protests.

These demonstrations were not concentrated in Seoul, however. The organisers made sure that they were spread out through the country. It is notable too that there were counter-protests too, with many older, conservatives feeling that they were damaging to the country’s image.

Writing in the Asia Times, Sun-chul Kim, an assistant professor of Korean Studies at the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Emory University, noted that mass demonstrations, encompassing students, workers, civic organisations, and opposition political parties have been a fixture of Korean life for decades, and the so-called Candlelight Protests that brought down Park were the same.

He also noted the importance of organisation, and the insistence on non-violence.

“The weekly candlelight protests were organised by Emergency Action for Park’s Resignation, a coalition of more than 1,500 civic organisations. In the past, large coalitions were often plagued by fierce infighting among competing political groups. To avoid discord, the anti-Park coalition set rules for decision making based on the lowest common denominator among participant organisations,” Kim wrote.

“Its role was focused on providing political space for citizens of all walks of life to come and express their views freely. From booking celebrities to setting up lost-and-found services, the coalition paid close attention to the details of the rallies to make them more accommodating to all,” Kim wrote.

The Anti-Zuma marches have brought together South Africans from all walks of life, giving them a space to express their views freely, proving that we can stand together, unified against corruption and bad governance.

And more so, the collective voice standing tohtehr have given all South Africans hope in a better tomorrow.


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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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