‘Grassroots’ join Zuma protest

Paul Van der Ventel protesting along Voortrekker Road.
While thousands marched from Keizersgracht to Parliament on Friday April 7, smaller protests took place across the city.

Several human chains were formed along key main roads into Cape Town CBD. One of them took place along Voortrekker Road in Bellville with protesters waving their banners and chanting “Zuma must fall”, while cars hooted in support.

Paul van der Ventel, from Bellville, said he was taking part in the protests to protect his children’s future.

“We need to take back our country and build it up,” he said.

Sue-Ann Schmitt also took part in the protest along Voortrekker Road and said it was her civic duty. She said people needed to take responsibility for their country and this was one such way to do so.

Stellenbosch University professor Dr Zwelinzima Ndevu said everyone needed to work together to tackle the situation in the country.

“The public could play a major role in influencing a change in the approach taken by government,” he said, citing the successful lobbying against the appointment of Des van Rooyen as a Minister of Finance, as a prime example of the power of protests.

However, he said, protests would only be effective if they were part of a “sustainable campaign” by “South Africans picketing under a single banner” and not simply just a “once-off”.

Churches, trade unions, NGOs and political formations could also encourage their members to openly challenge the cabinet reshuffle “through defiance campaigns such as not attending functions within their areas especially those that the president will be part of,” he said.

The atmosphere along Durban Road in Durbanville was electric, as various businesses in Rosen Park were given permission by the City of Cape Town to form a human chain from Old Oak Road to Bella Rosa Street during lunch time.

The businesses were joined by residents both young and old who came out in their numbers and lined the road.

Candice West, who works in the business park, said she was sick and tired of the president and everything that he had gotten away with, and she believed that protests such as these could bring about change.

Durbanville residents, who could not be part of the morning marches, protested along Durbanville Road and Main and Kerk streets from 3pm to 5pm, again filling that stretch of road.

Danielle Fredericks, from Fisantekraal, said President Zuma had promised job opportunities for the matric class of 2010, but they had not materialised.

“We are tired of struggling and can see that this will be the future for our children as well, while the president is living a life of luxury along with his cronies,” she said.

Ms Fredericks however, said it was not only the president who had to go, but “his people” referring to the faction who supports him as well.

Dr Ndevu urged the public to use social media to show their support for those members of the ruling party who had publicly criticised the president’s decisions.

“Grassroots mobilisation”, he said, was needed, led by “ordinary people and not leaders with past baggage of their own”.

South Africa’s credit rating was downgraded to junk status by both Standard & Poor’s and Fitch ratings agencies, following the axing of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy minister Mcebisi Jonas. Mr Gordhan was replaced by former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.

A no-confidence motion against President Zuma will be debated during a special sitting of Parliament on Tuesday April 18.