‘We wish you were never born’

CityPress - - Front Page - S’THEMBILE CELE sthem­bile.cele@city­press.co.za

Wednes­day starts off as a mis­er­able day, de­pend­ing on which side of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide you are on. The rain beats down on marchers who have gath­ered at Church Square in Pre­to­ria to de­mand that the birthday boy, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Ged­ley­ih­lek­isa Zuma, leave the high­est of­fice in the land. The word on the street is that uBaba has de­ployed rain to Tsh­wane – he will not let the op­po­si­tion get one up on him on his 75th.

By about 11am, how­ever, the skies clear and the num­bers con­tinue to swell.

One by one, civil so­ci­ety and op­po­si­tion party lead­ers are pa­raded on the stage by Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) sec­re­tary-gen­eral Go­drich Gardee.

“Jou moer, Ja­cob Zuma. Jou moer,” says a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Shosholoza Pro­gres­sive Party in his greet­ing to the masses.

The DA, the EFF, the United Demo­cratic Move­ment (UDM), Cope, the African Chris­tian Demo­cratic Party, the Inkatha Free­dom Party and even the African In­de­pen­dent Congress have their chance to greet the masses, who hold up an ar­ray of posters. “Send nudes,” reads one. “Zuma, we wish you were never born, hamba wena,” says another.

The mes­sage crosses party lines – it is un­equiv­o­cal in the de­mand that Msholozi must go.

Party lead­ers link arms and walk through the crowd to the lawns at the Union Build­ings. The im­age is a pre­mo­ni­tion of what South Africa may look like in 2019.

Upon ar­rival, some ov­er­en­thu­si­as­tic marchers rush up to the barbed wire bar­ri­cade as po­lice stare them down.

Soon, mar­shals ar­rive and shout the group to or­der – this is a dis­ci­plined gath­er­ing.

“We don’t ac­tu­ally want Zuma to go,” some­one from the op­po­si­tion tells me. “The ANC must keep him there; they must de­fend him. They must show their sup­port­ers that he is big­ger than the or­gan­i­sa­tion; that his needs are greater than the masses. They will be pun­ished at the polls and we will have a na­tional coali­tion.”

The po­lice es­ti­mate the crowd num­bers at 100 000. This must be a re­lief for the ANC’s com­man­der of the Twit­ter bat­tal­ion, Mzwanele Manyi. Ear­lier in the day, he tweeted: “BREAK­ING NEWS: Stats in­di­cate that the march to­day will FAIL to mo­bilise even 200 000 peo­ple.”

The first speaker at the Union Build­ings is the leader of the ANC’s first break­away party, the UDM’s Bantu Holomisa, who calls for a sum­mit of po­lit­i­cal and civil so­ci­ety: “We can’t con­tinue march­ing for­ever. We must find a way to con­verge un­der one roof to dis­cuss South Africa’s fu­ture.”

As things wind down and most of the speak­ers have had their say, the leader of the third break­away party from the ANC ap­proaches the mi­cro­phone and a sea of red comes alive.

Julius Malema calls for South Africans to hold “small demon­stra­tions in your own com­mu­ni­ties”.

Ever fo­cused on 2019, Malema rub­bishes the no­tion that “junk” sta­tus will only af­fect whites.

“Junk sta­tus is not an is­sue of white peo­ple alone. It is go­ing to af­fect the poor­est of the poor … When we take power in 2019, bread will be R80 and you will blame us,” he said.

The young leader wraps up and the marchers head home, just in time to catch the pres­i­dent’s birthday cel­e­bra­tions on TV.

PHOTO: TEBOGO LETSIE

GROUNDSWELL Mem­bers of op­po­si­tion par­ties march to the Union Build­ings on Wednes­day to de­mand that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma re­sign from of­fice

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.