Anti-Zuma marches unlikely to have hoped-for effect - analysts

Political analyst and author Ralph Matshekga is cautioning civil society groups against their protests being hijacked for political mileage.

Hundreds of people are gathered on Beyers Naude Drive on 7 April 2017 during protests against President Jacob Zuma after his Cabinet reshuffle. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN – As thousands gear up to take to the streets across to voice their discontent about government and to call for President Jacob Zuma to step down, some political analysts say while their intentions are noble, it’s unlikely to have the effect many are hoping for.

University of Cape Town political lecturer Zwelethu Jolobe says: “People are allowed and should share their discontent.

“But the point is that I don’t think that people are thinking through what’s next and the only way that you can get parties out, is to vote them out of office.”

Political analyst and author Ralph Matshekga is cautioning civil society groups against their protests being hijacked for political mileage.

“As long as that call comes from ordinary citizens to stand up and voice their concerns, I think it’s a good platform and I also think it’s very important to make sure that platform is being guarded to make sure that those with political intentions do not infiltrate civil society initiatives.”

PROTESTORS URGED TO REMAIN CALM

As thousands of people are expected to march against Zuma’s leadership on Friday, others have come out in his support and gathered outside Luthuli House.

Democratic Alliance members have also come out in their numbers in central Johannesburg, but they will not be taking their protest to the African National Congress’ headquarters.

Acting National Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane says officer are monitoring events and remain on high alert.

“We are aware of the march by the DA, which has been approved. We are aware of members of the ANC who have convened at Luthuli House and we don’t consider that to be a march or protest action.”

Phahlane has appealed to those participating in protests across the country to do so responsibly.

The police chief urged demonstrators to respect the law.

“The South African Police Service calls on all role-players, including political parties and community leaders, to refrain from making public statements that would incite violence or lead to criminal activity.”

Meanwhile, the ANC says it will not allow any of its members to use violence towards people who protest against Zuma on Friday.

The party’s Khusela Sangoni says while they accept that people have a right to protest, some protesters may have another agenda.

“The Cabinet reshuffle last week and the events that followed thereafter would have emboldened a movement. I think it’s called “Zuma Must Fall” and now you have all these people coming out of the woodwork. Not all their grievances are genuine.”

DURBAN PROTEST

Hundreds of DA supporters have gathered at the Durban circus site near Suncoast Casino where they will march calling for Zuma to resign, while the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) holds a separate march in the CBD in support of the president.

Most demonstrators are carrying the South African flag, while others are holding placards which read "Fire Zuma" and "No confidence".

The party's Chief Whip John Steenhuisen is among the group.

He says this is not just a march by the DA to gain political points but it's about South Africans standing against Zuma.

“This is a march that doesn’t belong to any party, it belongs to the people of South Africa.”

Just a few kilometres away, the ANCYL is also expected to gather. They say his recent Cabinet reshuffle shows his commitment to radical economic transformation.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)