‘Zuma Must Go’ Protesters Demand South African President Quit

  • Demonstrations are held in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town
  • Zuma faces no-confidence motion in parliament on April 18

South Africa Ratings Cut to Junk by Fitch

Tens of thousands of protesters marched in South Africa to demand that President Jacob Zuma resign after he fired the finance minister and reshuffled the cabinet.

Marchers chanting “Zuma must go” in Pretoria, the capital, walked to the Union Buildings, the official seat of government, while thousands of people faced riot police outside the chained gates of parliament in Cape Town, and rallied in Durban and Port Elizabeth.

In Johannesburg, eNCA television showed footage of police firing stun grenades near the home of the Gupta family, who are friends of Zuma and in business with his son. Demonstrators there were carrying signs including one that said “puppet masters must go.” Last year the nation’s graft ombudsman implied that Zuma allowed the Guptas to influence cabinet appointments and the issuing of state contracts. Zuma and the Guptas deny the allegations.

Demonstrators in Pretoria April 7.

Photographer: Themba Hadebe/AP Photos

Zuma’s decision to fire Pravin Gordhan as finance minister and make 19 other changes to his administration on March 31 drew widespread criticism, prompted S&P Global Ratings to downgrade the nation’s credit rating to junk and weakened the rand. Fitch Ratings Ltd. followed suit on Friday, sending the currency to its weakest level since January.

The protests were called by Save South Africa, which has been campaigning for better government, and are backed by the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, and civil-rights groups. A magistrates court on Thursday overturned a police ban on a planned “people’s march” to government headquarters in Pretoria, the capital. The presidency said it didn’t oppose the demonstrations.

Zuma, 74, will face a no-confidence motion in parliament on April 18 sponsored by opposition parties. The ruling African National Congress said its members won’t vote against the president, whose decision to change the cabinet was criticized by three senior members of the party, including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Zuma, who’s due to step down as ANC leader in December and as the nation’s president in 2019, has survived a series of corruption scandals and presided over the party’s worst-electoral performance since the end of apartheid in 1994 in municipal elections in August.

— With assistance by Amogelang Mbatha

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.