SA 23rd National Freedom Day: Why South Africans Hold Protest Rallies Against Zuma


As part of ways to commemorate the SA 23rd National Freedom Day celebration, opposition parties have set out to hold another rally at the Dan Qeqe Stadium in Port Elizabeth and the rally will be centered on ways to have Zuma removed from office.

The rally which is organized by Save SA group is described as a family event that would see political parties such as the UDM, Cope, African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), DA, FEDUSA, OUTA and the UDF, participating in the short march in demand for Zuma to respect the nation’s democracy and rule of law by resigning.

SA 23rd National Freedom Day commemorates the country’s first post-apartheid elections held in 1994 and today’s event will mark South Africa’s 23 years of democracy.

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Twenty-three years back, South Africa experienced its first democracy as it had its first non-racial national elections where everyone of voting age (from 18 years), from any race group- including foreign citizens permanently resident in South Africa- were allowed to vote.

Of course, South Africans will always live to remember the words of their anti-apartheid revolutionary and former president, Nelson Mandela, to the parliament at the first democracy day celebration:

As dawn ushered in this day, the 27th of April 1994, few of us could suppress the welling of emotion, as we were reminded of the terrible past from which we come as a nation; the great possibilities that we now have; and the bright future that beckons us.

And so we assemble here today, and in other parts of the country, to mark a historic day in the life of our nation. Wherever South Africans are across the globe, our hearts beat as one, as we renew our common loyalty to our country and our commitment to its future.

The freedom day celebrations were to mark the emancipation from poverty, unemployment, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination but 23 years after, citizens believe that not much has so far been achieved as wealth is still controlled by few considered as the Whites at the expense of other races in the country.

The country’s unemployment rate only fell to 26.5 in the last three months of 2016 as against 26.6% after reaching a 12-1/2-year high of 27.1 percent in the previous periods. Poverty rate is still on the high side while crime and corruption increase at an alarming rate.

To these issues, a new organization called the Freedom Movement hold a protest rally to continue putting pressure on President Jacob Zuma – who every South African believes is the chief architect of the country’s woes – to step down.

Freedom Movement spokesperson Catherine Constantinides said that personal assistant to late former President Nelson Mandela Zelda le Grange was also expected to attend the rally.

Save South Africa’s Sipho Pityana is also expected to speak, along with former Constitutional Court judge Zak Yacoob and Anglican Bishop Nceba Nopece.

Cope’s Dennis Bloem accused Zuma of plunging South Africa into an economic disaster while UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said the marches are about removing the president and are not an attack on the ruling party.

“So far, the indication is that he’s not sober to lead the country, so we’ll support that,” he said.

Khusta Jack, Port Elizabeth leader who spoke ahead of the protest rally, said that the SA 23rd National Freedom Day is not a day to discriminate against parties or races, but a day to unite the nation against bad leadership

Jack called on political parties to emphasize unity across party political affiliation for the democratic benefit of every citizen.

“We want a fit and proper leader, it’s not our call to say give us this particular person. We want to be governed properly,” he said, adding that South Africans need leaders who understood the psychology of the masses, those who would not detach themselves from the people.

“Zuma has long detached himself from the masses,” Jack said.

“When you see Zuma on television these days he goes on without any substance. He has lost it, he has tried the race card and he failed, now he is attempting to terrorize people by reminding them about the killing fields of Natal, his intention is to instill fear and terror in the minds of the people. That’s his last resort, what is next?” said Jack.

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He called on people to reject Zuma’s utterances of “recklessness and irresponsibility”.

“It is clear to us that the president is planning a nasty campaign against South Africans. Rest assured he is a lame duck and he is finished as we speak,” he said.

While Pastor Roderick Vencecie, representing church leaders in the northern areas of PE, called on people irrespective of religion or race to join forces on the SA 23rd National Freedom Day, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said SA people must not stop marching and protesting against Zuma.

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