One protest not enough – expert

Residents make their voices heard on the corner of Old Paarl Road and Brackenfell Boulevard.

Protesters in Kuils River, Brackenfell and Kraaifontein spread out along the main roads to show solidarity for the countrywide call for President Jacob Zuma to step down.

President Zuma’s time in office has been dogged by scandal and allegations of widespread corruption.

The last straw for many was his decision to recall Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Mr Gordhan’s deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, in the middle of an overseas investor roadshow and then axe them, along with several other ministers and deputy ministers, during a late-night cabinet reshuffle on Thursday March 30.

Shortly afterwards ratings agencies Standard&Poor’s and Fitch downgraded the country’s credit rating to junk status (See letter on page 2), citing Mr Gordhan’s dismissal as one of reason for this.

Thousands of people took to the streets across the country on Thursday and Friday April 6 and 7 to call for the ousting of the president.

Stellenbosch University political professor Dr Zwelinzima Ndevu, of Kuils River, called President Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle a “fiasco”.

He said that for the protests to be effective they needed to be 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.

Dr Ndevu urged the public to use social media to show 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”. Ahead of the protest, social media was buzzing with plans and discussion.

Advocate Rod Solomons, the convener of SA First Forum, issued a statement on Facebook with a list of muster points for protesters.

“Our country is facing a crisis and good people cannot afford to be silent and do nothing,” he said.

On the Kuils River Community Facebook page, there was heated debate about whether the protest would be effective.

Ellen Bekker Redelinghuys said: “I am a boss, and I am closing my business on Friday to protest, and am encouraging my employees to do the same. Your wages will mean nothing when the rand is worthless. It is time to do something.”

Steve Ross said: “Mass protest against government usually derails the progress of government. They are now bringing our economy to its knees and on Friday we are asked to join them in doing so.

“The truth is that this government has been plundering and ransacking our economy for years already. It’s not something new. Yet after each election they get the overwhelming majority of our votes. In between elections, we protest against them and expect them to listen to us.”

St George the Martyr Anglican church in Kuils River held a prayer service and Litany for Justice on Friday April 7.

While some businesses did close for the day, others only closed for part of it, such as Chocolate Lace clothing factory in Brackenfell.

“We decided that rather than going to individual marches, we will stand together with the nation as our company,” Magda Malan, one of the owners of Chocolate Lace said.

The factory closed for a few hours on the morning of Friday April 7 as staff and managers alike took to Okavango Drive with banners and flags.

“It’s not something big,” Ms Malan said. “But people see that we don’t want this for our country.”

On Thursday April 6, the ANC said it would vote against a motion of no confidence in President Zuma, which opposition parties are set to table in Parliament on Wednesday April 18.