Anti Zuma protest in Port Elizabeth

Protesters in Port Elizabeth. Picture by Joseph Chirume

Thousands took to the streets of Port Elizabeth calling for President Zuma to step down

Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa

“IF the African National Congress government does to you what apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what they you did to the apartheid government.”   Nelson Mandela told a Cosatu congress in 1994.These words became the basis for Save South Africa Port Elizabeth convener, Khusta Jack on Friday when he addressed more than 6000 anxious people at the Vuyisile Mini Square, Port Elizabeth.

The multitudes of people heeded an earlier call for a countrywide mass protests to show their support for Zuma to step down. Many South Africans were riled by president Zuma’s unexpected cabinet reshuffle that had claimed the scalps of five ministers, including Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonasi. Speakers were drawn from various socio-political backgrounds and were unanimous in their determination for Zuma to step down and pave the way for a more versatile leader. The mass meeting was organized by civil organizations and was led by the Save South Africa organization.

Speaking to the of agitated crowd, Save South Africa Port Elizabeth co-coordinator, former politician and now prominent businessman, Khusta Jack, appealed to the gathering not to let racial differences divide them.

He explained, ” The whole country is at the most precarious time. Blacks, whites, young and old, rich and poor, the illiterate and the literate should unite as one. Those who seek to divide us as blacks and whites want to scuttle our efforts so that we are never able to have a maximum impact from the benefits of being a united people. We must reject their tactics of divide and rule. We must also choose non-violent methods to wage our struggle”.

Khusta said that waging a protracted struggle through protests against the Zuma administration was the only way to ensure that change was brought to the country.

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“To come at this point in time when it is so dangerous for everybody to participate. It is most encouraging and I believe we are on track. The ANC has given us a politically illiterate president. A president who disregards his oath of office. He has also become arrogant. President Zuma is going to meet all of us with clarity of vision. We are going to drive him out of the City of power” he said to a thunderous applause from the throng of people who were singing and dancing.

Khusta told the people that President Zuma’s recent reshuffling of cabinet was never meant to bring new economic benefits to the country, but it was primed to promote his corrupt dealings with the controversial Gupta family. He explained, “The Guptas have changed the method of looting our resources. At first they came through tenders and contracts. That is too complicated. The Guptas don’t want it anymore. They want to talk to the minister directly.”

Speaking on behalf of religious organisations, Pastor George Georgiou said, “The message is not because you (Zuma) are black sir, and that some policies do not suit some privileged people, the message is because you are corrupt Sir. Corruption knows no skin colour. Pastor Georgiou regretted that the white people made a big mistake for letting apartheid survive for many years without them voicing their concerns.”We made a mistake during apartheid. One of those mistakes was it took long to say something. Do not be loyal out of ignorance. If we take too long to say things that are wrong, our children will suffer.50 years of Apartheid will become 100 years of poverty. I am also asking the ruling party that since you have the seat until 2019,does what you have done before, recall him. You have recalled a president before, we were not sure why. We were patient then, now we know why, recall him.” added Georgiou.

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An angry and emotional 17-year-old grade 12 pupils, Luthandolwethu Mboniswa had to cut short her speech after she could not control her emotions with tears welling up her eyes.

She said” What is happening today in this country leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. We cannot allow one man to destroy our nation. He has virtually put his greed over the people. The people should come first. This is a man who no longer knows the difference between what is right and wrong. We can no longer standby and let our country go to the dogs. We will not allow corruption to rule over our people”

60-year-old gogo Margret Befile  of Joe Slovo was in a jovial mood as she said she has been waiting for this day with much anxiety. She said, “I have two daughters who are not working. They have given up hope of ever getting a job. Many young people are not working hence they end up resorting to crime and drug abuse. Is this what we fought for? Who are these Guptas I always hear on radio and TV? Where were they when we were fighting Apartheid? Do they know Mandela?”

Louis Jacobs, also Port Elizabeth said, “We voted for democracy but unfortunately we got nowhere. I am here to show the world that corruption is destroying our country”

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About Joseph Chirume 22 Articles
I was born in the shoe manufacturing town of Gweru in Zimbabwe,1970. I came to South Africa and did some odd jobs before writing for a number of publications. At present I am doing a Masters in Journalism through distance learning.