Msholozi made a joke of us - people at Soweto 'Consultative Assembly'

2016-04-16 15:23
President Jacob Zuma (AFP)

President Jacob Zuma (AFP)

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Johannesburg - Dozens of ordinary South Africans have expressed their desire for President Jacob Zuma to step down as president of the country and they are prepared to roll out continuous mass action.

"We must fight peacefully, non-violently and defend our freedoms, but it cannot be a once-off event. We have to make it a rolling mass action. At the back of our democracy is the people's power," a man known only as Vish told the crowd at the People's Consultative Assembly for Democracy in Soweto on Saturday

The University of Johannesburg's Soweto campus was filled with ordinary concerned citizens, community leaders, members of various organisations, as well as senior politicians on Saturday morning.

They had all gathered there to discuss how to further escalate their call for Zuma to step down following the Constitutional Court's judgment last month.

A woman by the name of Eunice, from an organisation called Voice of the Poor, vented her frustration, saying "Down with Zuma!"

"We are sick and tired of empty promises, our children are not working, enough is enough. All of them must go," she said.

Another concerned citizen in the crowd, Xoli Nosenga, who had been voting for the ANC since the country's first democratic elections, said they should repeat what they had done previously when they were unhappy with the leader of the organisation.

"We must bear in mind that we are able... to remove a president that we once loved. I will never stop voting for the ANC but... uMsholozi ugezile, wahlekisa ngathi. Inoba uhluthi ngoku (Msholozi disrespected us, he made a joke of us. He is probably stuffed from eating now)."

'No compromise on corruption'

Among the chants heard in the hall were, "Zuma must fall! ANC must fall!", with some within the crowd describing him as a "thief" and a "thug".

Among the politicians in the crowd were Congress of the People leader Mosioua Lekota, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa and Economic Freedom Fighters chairperson Dali Mpofu.

Lekota also called for Zuma to step down, but encouraged calls for the National Assembly to be dissolved as well.

"We can't be ruled by men and women who are not bound by their commitment to the Constitution," he said.

He suggested that the electoral system be amended to ensure that those elected to govern were directly accountable to the people.

"There must be no compromise on corruption."

'Our people freed themselves'

Mpofu told the crowd that average South Africans had the power to fight for a truly democratic country, as they had done so in the past.

"We are told the ANC freed the people, [but] our people freed themselves and they did so in this fashion," Mpofu said referring to the people who had gathered in the hall to call for mass action.

There were a number of suggestions within the crowd for a massive gathering at the Beyers Naude Square near the ANC's Luthuli House headquarters n central Johannesburg on April 27, Freedom Day.

More than 70 organisations showed up at the hall, including concerned citizens from across the country.

The majority of those in attendance vented their anger over how Zuma had failed them as a leader, and had disrespected them as citizens.

They described him as a divisive, corrupt leader and called for an end to such a culture within the ruling party.

Although some maintained they still loved the African National Congress party, they also raised issues of concern about who would replace Zuma if he did indeed step down.

"Zuma must go, and then what? It will be futile for one man to go and the rest of the system remains intact," University of Potchefstroom student Genius Dlangalala told the crowd.

"We must remove the rot in the system," he said.

'You are your own messiah'

Vuyisile Mshudulu, from the Black Power Front, echoed Dlangalala's sentiments, saying Zuma was merely a symptom of a bigger problem within the ruling party.

"We need to locate the problem from its source," he told the crowd.

The general sense was that they did not want him replaced with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, mainly because of his alleged link to the killings of dozens of Marikana miners in 2012, following a wage strike.

Nelvis Qekema, from the Azanian People's Movement (Azapo), said there was a notion that South Africans had adopted since the advent of democracy, that those put in positions of leadership would look after it.

"Our people always expect messiahs, there is no messiah, you are your own messiah," Qekema said.

"If you expect the Constitutional Court to do your work, you are wrong. You need to stand up and fight. Fighting is nasty, you should be prepared to go to jail... or to die [if] you want to stand up and make someone angry."

By the end of the meeting, chants of "Zuma Must Go! Zuma Must Go!" echoed across the hall. 

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  politics

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