South African president accuses protesters of racism
Earlier today, Fitch Ratings announced the downgrade of South Africa to "junk status" - meaning the likelihood of debt that is in foreign currency being repaid is very low. Two of the ANC's main allies, the South African Communist Party and the biggest trade union federation, COSATU, both called on Zuma to step down.
Some thousands of South Africans demonstrated in major cities against Zuma following the dismissal of finance minister Pravin Gordhan which has fuelled concerns over government corruption and a struggling economy. A heavy police presence was seen at the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg as ANC supporters and members of the party's youth league gathered. This time, however, he has done something that damages the whole country economically, and if the ANC can not force Zuma to resign now then its political future is likely to be short and miserable. Others have expressed support for what they believe are the president's plans for "radical socio-economic" change, reports the BBC.
True to this, after the march, protesters I spoke with, said they felt a sense of unity and hope.
In the country's commercial hub Johannesburg, four people were injured after police "fired rubber bullets at protesters who were attacking other protesters with stones", Johannesburg Metro Police Department spokesman Wayne Minaar said. Crowds also met at the compound owned by the wealthy Gupta family, who maintain ties to the president. But this was later overturned by a magistrate.
Some placards during the protests used vulgar language against Zuma, Reuters witnesses said.
He warned protestors that Zuma "is going to resist with everything" and said the event on Friday should only be the beginning of the campaign to get rid of Zuma.
In Durban, banners stating "Jacob Zuma must step down" were draped from buildings as part of nationwide demonstrations.
Zuma and the ruling party, which suffered big losses in municipal elections past year, have been weakened by other scandals around the president.
More troubling than the immediate question of Mr. Zuma's control over the presidency and the ANC, however, is the fact that he presides over what seems to be a secular decline in the quality of governance and institutional integrity in South Africa.
It left some in the ANC leadership questioning whether Mr Zuma should remain as president.
Maybe Zuma is just doing a final big favour for his friends - but maybe he has been talked into this by smarter men who told him that if he just spent a lot more money (which isn't there to spend), that he could finally raise the living standards of the multitudinous South African poor. The angered protestors demanded the departure of Zuma after his recent cabinet reshuffle.
The media reported that Mr. Zuma secured controlled of the party stalwarts through intricate networks of patronage.
Opposition leader Mmusi Maimane, head of the Democratic Alliance, which has strong support among white people, had called for a march in Johannesburg, and held a rally of more than 10,000 people.
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