Five influential people who want Zuma gone

2016-04-06 21:17

Johannesburg  Prominent members of civil society and the ANC stood on the steps of the Constitutional Court on Wednesday afternoon and demanded that President Jacob Zuma resign from office.

Those present at what was called "a civil society call to action" were former deputy secretary general of the ANC, Cheryl Carolus; ANC veteran, Mavuso Msimang; former intelligence minister, Ronnie Kasrils; former Cosatu general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi; former Constitutional Court Justice Zak Yacoob; Anglican Bishop Joe Seoka and former ANC Youth League deputy president, Ronald Lamola.

The calls for Zuma to resign have increased since last week's Constitutional Court judgment that found he had failed to uphold the Constitution when he did not comply with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's remedial action regarding payment for the non-security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

In a declaration read out at the press conference, the group said South Africa was in the middle of a constitutional crisis and that Zuma was a liability.

"This campaign for Jacob Zuma to do the right thing and step down will not stop until the head of the rot is removed," they said.

"And when we succeed we shall remain vigilant. We do not seek one thief to be replaced with another thief."

The group has called on all South Africans on April 16 to hold organised discussions around the country and to make Freedom Day on April 27 "a day of action".

Here is what the five influential people who want Zuma gone had to say:

Former ANC deputy secretary general Cheryl Carolus

Carolus said she was a loyal cadre of the ANC and not a disgruntled member, but that Tuesday's debate in Parliament was a "frog in the pot moment for many of us".

"I was deeply saddened and thought... this has happened on our watch and all of us need to wake up and fix this on our watch or history has every right to judge us. I never thought I would stand up in public and say how deeply sad I am about what happens in my Parliament..."

She said everyone in the ANC needed to stand up and everyone who was a decent South African needed to take some responsibility and say "this has got to stop".

"I am taking a stand," Carolus said.

Former Constitutional Court Justice Zak Yacoob

Yacoob said it was not right to only blame Zuma.

"You must know that the majority of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) could rule him out of power... and they did not do so. It is our movement which has become tarnished to a degree which needs a lot of cleaning up and the sooner we do it the better," he said.

Yacoob said ANC leaders had "blindfolded their brains".

The former justice took issue with Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery's comments that the court had not found Zuma had seriously violated the constitution, arguing that it was serious.

He said all ANC national executive committee members, national working committee members and cabinet ministers should resign if they believed they would have done the same as Zuma.

"I would like them all not to look at [the] legality; look at your consciences my ex-comrades, look at your consciences very carefully because in those days we spoke out strongly against the apartheid government, despite fears of reprisal. 

"This government works in very awkward, horrendous ways so I speak against this government despite the threat of reprisal like I did against the apartheid government and I call upon the African National Congress and the national executive committee to examine their consciences and once and for all to do the right thing... otherwise I will have to appeal to the people to do the right thing later. President please go," Yacoob said.

ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang

Msimang, who has been a longtime member of the ANC, said he did not recognise the type of leadership he was seeing in the party today.

"We have heard people say they are very dissatisfied with conduct of President Jacob Zuma... [and] we are told it is the opposition setting up the stage.

"Well the opposition must be having a lot of supporters if everyone in South Africa is saying the same thing. I would like to say that my hope is that it's not too late for the leadership of the African National Congress to do the right thing and ask the president in everyone's interest to step down."

Former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi

Vavi said South Africa was going through its "darkest hour" and was in the middle of a serious political and socio-economic crisis.

"The country is like a ship in the deepest ocean, at the darkest hour. Unfortunately the captains of the ship have lost their compass and they all blindfolded."

Vavi said Zuma was trampling on the Constitution, which went against everything former president Nelson Mandela had fought for and stood for.

"Little did he [Mandela] know that even before we could forget about his funeral, the people who were presiding at his funeral are now standing on his grave, sorry for my language, basically urinating on Nelson Mandela's grave.

"That is what Jacob Zuma is doing by trampling on the constitution of this land," he said.

Former intelligence service minister Ronnie Kasrils

Kasrils said the Constitutional Court was something to be proud of but that the legislature and executive had been tarnished by their behaviour.

He said the people of South Africa needed to stand up against greed and corruption and ensure that these things did not happen again.

"There are many among us who say 'what's the point of saying President Jacob Zuma [must] go, because he will only be replaced by another thief and crook', but actually through the power of the people and constitution we are putting down the marker.

"He must go. If we succeed in this, what that marker says to any rising president, premier and mayor... [is] abide by your oath of office... and serve your people and not your friends. Zuma must go," said Kasrils.

Read more on:    anc  |  cheryl carolus  |  ronnie kasrils  |  jacob zuma  |  zwelinzima vavi  |  zak yacoob  |  johannesburg  |  politics

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