Protests in South Africa over Zuma’s ‘misgovernance’

Johannesburg, Dec 17 (IANS) Thousands of South Africans took to the streets in major cities on Wednesday, blaming President Jacob Zuma for a sluggish economy and alleged corruption.

Cities including Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth witnessed large-scale protests. In Johannesburg, people started a march from the Mandela Bridge, chanting “Down with Zuma”, “Down with ANC (ruling party)”, Xinhua reported.

Addressing a crowd in Johannesburg, Zwelinzima Vavi, former president of the Congress of the South African Trade Unions, said, “We have chosen this day, the National Reconciliation Day, to say to ourselves, South Africa and the world: No to corruption.”

Vavi accused Zuma of “destroying the economy” by changing twice the finance minister within a week.

On December 9, Zuma axed then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene and named little-known MP David van Rooyen to the job — an abrupt move that sent the South African rand to record lows and caused the stock market to tumble.

However four days after that, Zuma replaced Van Rooyen with Pravin Gordhan who served as South Africa’s finance minister from 2009 to 2014.

Vavi said Zuma had “almost brought the economy to its knees” with high unemployment, adding, “It’s not only for the president who has to quit but his cabinet too for not recalling him.”

The president of the Congress of the People party, Mosiuoa Lekota, accused Zuma of alleged corruption, citing the disputed use of some $23 million of state money to improve his private residence.

He also said there was corruption in state-run enterprises.

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