PRETORIA/CAPE TOWN. – President Zuma has told supporters not to concern themselves with criticism by opposition parties, as that is the job of the opposition.
The president was speaking at his 75th birthday celebration, hosted by the ANC in Kliptown, Soweto, yesterday evening. President Zuma has received support from senior ANC leaders as well as Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini at the celebration, despite growing calls for him to step down.
The ANC was hosting the event on the same day that thousands of opposition supporters marched on the Union Buildings, calling for President Zuma to resign. The President thanked the party for hosting the birthday celebration for him, saying he is shocked the party did this for him.
“I thank the ANC for making my birthday a special day by organising this event.”
On the marches last week and yesterday, the president told supporters not to worry when people call on him to step down, saying he has seen many things in his life and has been hated and called names and he is not moved.
“Those rich people . . . they’ve been hating for a while now. They’re not my friends and will never be my friends,” President Zuma told supporters.
He branded last week’s protests, which attracted tens of thousands of marchers, as racist. The dismissal of Gordhan saw the Fitch and Standard & Poor’s agencies cut South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to junk status due to fears of political instability and growing corruption.
President Zuma has been accused of being in the sway of the wealthy Gupta business family, allegedly granting them influence over government appointments, contracts and state-owned businesses.
In a related development, the motion of no confidence against President Zuma has been postponed, according to parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo. The vote was scheduled for April 18. The DA, Economic Freedom Fighters and the United Democratic Movement have called for the motion to be postponed.
The Programme Committee will now be requested to reflect on the implications of the postponement of the motion of no confidence on the programme of the House, especially in light of Rule 90 (rule of anticipation), Parliament said in a statement.
“In terms of Rule 90, postponed motions remain on the programming system of the Assembly, thereby blocking any MP from tabling a similar motion until the one tabled is debated and voted on,” the statement reads.
Demonstrators gathered in Pretoria yesterday for further protests urging President Jacob Zuma to step down. The march to Union Buildings, the official seat of government, was organised by a coalition of opposition parties following nationwide rallies against Zuma last week.
President Zuma’s recent sacking of respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan unleashed public anger over government corruption scandals, record unemployment and slowing economic growth. Yesterday’s march was led by the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, along with the Democratic Alliance (DA) and smaller opposition parties.
“I came because (President) Zuma has to step down. He sold the country. I don’t want him anymore,” Mavis Madisha, a 37-year-old EFF supporter, told AFP.
Gordhan’s sacking triggered unprecedented criticism from senior figures in the ruling African National Congress (ANC), including from Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. The ANC has since tried to close ranks behind President Zuma and has vowed to defeat a no-confidence vote in parliament. – AFP/News24/EWN.