Wednesday turned out one of the best days of President Jacob Zuma who despite all crisis hovering over him, celebrated his 75th birthday singing and dancing with friends and allies.
Zuma, who all fingers point to as the main brain responsible for the turbulent economic and political times the country is facing at the moment had the best of his times with friends, saying he is not stressed by the problems so far.
Political parties had on Wednesday also launched a mass protest march in Pretoria where they demanded that Zuma resign. The opposition parties blame him for leading the country into junk status following his recent decision to reshuffle the cabinet which totally destroyed the economy when he tampered with the treasury department.
Wednesday’s National Day Of Action also saw South Africans venting their anger on Zuma in diverse means with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) taking the leads as they hosted their own funeral procession to signal the political “death” of Jacob Zuma and his loyalists within the ANC.
The group even brought their own homemade (cardboard) coffin and tombstone with a drawing of Zuma on it while the rest carry placards accusing him of going against the interests of the country time and time again.
Despite all these, Zuma ate, danced and smiled along with his supporters.
The confident and calm Zuma gave a lengthy address in which he brushed off the idea that he is stressed by the calls for him to step down.
“I don’t get stressed. Stress is a white man’s disease and that is why a term such as stress did not exist in the Zulu language‚” he chuckled as he addressed friends present at his birthday party.
Zuma’s comment was a response to Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe who told him that he should relax and not stress about the marches.
Speaking on the marches, Zuma said that it was just the opposition being the opposition – and there was no point being the opposition if they didn’t oppose something.
He also called on the ANC members to ignore the actions of the opposition and focus on being united again for the sake of the party’s future.
“Do not fear when the opposition speaks the way it does. They are doing their job to oppose what others do. If they don’t deliver‚ they aren’t doing their jobs‚” he said as he encouraged the ANC to not be afraid, and just continue doing their jobs as there hasn’t been a single ANC president that hasn’t been attacked by the opposition.
This is the second time Zuma mentioned the whites in talks about the on going protest against him. He labeled last Friday’s marches racist and on Wednesday he said stress was a white man’s disease which he cannot have.
Closing off his lengthy address‚ Zuma said he would be willing to step down only if that was what the ANC wanted. He however, quickly added that his successor would face as much criticism as he had.
“Even if you tell me to resign tomorrow‚ I’ll do so without any animosity‚” he said in IsiZulu, pledging that he would die an ANC supporter‚and that he would continue to serve without pay once his term comes to an end.
Meanwhile, Opposition parties said earlier that Zuma’s response to all the mass protests against him demonstrated his own failings as a leader.
“His irrational actions will have a massively negative effect on the poorest in our country who are mostly black. The fact that he cannot or chooses not to see this only confirms that Zuma governs like black lives do not matter‚” DA spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme said.
EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi also slammed Zuma’s racist claim, saying: “Why would Zuma say these marches are racist? Because he saw a few placards. Those placards must be condemned‚ because there is no place for racism particularly on the picket lines defending our democratic constitution.”
Ndlozi however added that the fact such racism still existed in the country demonstrated that the ANC hadn’t done enough to put a stop to it in the over two decades it was in power.