Wednesday, December 16, 2015 5:47 pm
Thousands of marchers demanded President Jacob Zuma step down in rallies across South Africa on Wednesday, blaming him for a week of financial turmoil triggered by his sacking of the finance minister.
Crowds answered appeals on social media to gather in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth on the eastern coastline, carrying posters reading “Save South Africa” and “Recall Zuma now”.
Zuma appointed David van Rooyen, a former mayor, to replace the widely respected Nhlanhla Nene last Wednesday, a move that caused a selling frenzy in the rand, bonds and stock market.
He then changed his mind late on Sunday and reappointed former finance minister Pravin Gordhan to the post he held from 2009 to 2014.
Protesters chanted “Zuma must fall” as they gathered at the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg.
“The people in the (ruling) ANC are sharing the money, that’s why they haven’t recalled him,” said Thembani Nyandeni, a 28-year-old protester who told Reuters he had been unemployed for the past four years.
There was no immediate government response to the marches. But senior leaders in the ANC have rejected other calls for Zuma to be replaced.
Addressing a government event in Port Elizabeth planned to mark a public holiday, Zuma steered clear of the row.
He said South Africans, mostly the black majority, had made strides since the fall of apartheid in 1994 but acknowledged that black businesses could play a greater role in the economy.
Adding to the government’s woes, Moody’s Investors Servicecut its outlook on South Africa to “negative” from “stable” lateon Tuesday, citing structural challenges in the country’s miningindustry and increasing political pressures.