On April 8 – a day after South Africans held a co-ordinated Zuma Must Fall protest across the country – over 600 hundred South Africans living in the United Kingdom met at the Trafalgar Square outside South Africa House, protesting and calling for President Jacob Zuma to step down.
The London march, organized by members of the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the UK, turned out to be a non-partisan march as several supporters of other political parties took to the streets against Zuma.
Protesters began gathering at the square from 11:00, with most, donning native fabrics and drapping the national flag over their shoulder.
A major highlight of the event was the handing over of a memorandum to the High Commission for the attention of the National Assembly. The protesters also urged the National Assembly to support the motion of no confidence.
Significantly, gathering at the Trafalgar Square brought back memories to many protesters as there were protests against the Apartheid government at the same site years ago.
On Friday, April 7, protesters marched in cities across South Africa including Cape Town, Durban, and the capital, Pretoria calling for the removal of President Jacob Zuma.
The demonstrations follow Zuma’s unilateral removal of a respected finance minister, which led to the country’s credit rating being cut to junk status.
The President’s decision to drop the finance minister angered both his numerous opponents, allies, and some ANC members, causing a rift in the ruling ANC party, which has governed South Africa since 1994.
While thousands of South Africans took to the street on Friday, some ANC members also marched in support of Zuma, deriding the Zuma must fall protest as the one-off roar of privileged white people.
However, many political analysts believe the Zuma must fall protest over Zuma’s dismissal last week of respected Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan came too late to make a political difference since the ANC’s National Working Committee has once again announced the party’s support for the embattled president.
In fact, last Wednesday, three members of the ANC top six – Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, national treasury Zweli Mkhize and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe – who had earlier criticized the president, were forced to apologize.
The national demonstration came after international ratings agency Standard & Poor’s, on Monday downgraded the country’s credit rating on its foreign denominated debt to junk status — causing the currency, the rand, to tank.
A second international ratings agency, Fitch, also downgraded South Africa’s credit rating to junk status on Friday — on both debts held in foreign and local currency — which is a more damaging development.
Currently, a third agency, Moody’s, has put the country on a negative review, meaning a downgrade is under consideration. Standard & Poor’s and Fitch had mentioned the dismissal of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan as a major cause of SA’s economic decline.
For middle-class white South Africans, the ratings downgrade means their comfortable lifestyles could be affected – including the cost of their next vacation overseas. But for impoverished black South Africans, the rising cost of food staples and transportation will simply be unbearable.
President Jacob Zuma is due to leave office in 2019 when his second five-year term comes to an end.