Special day for Zuma, Gordhan

2017-04-12 10:23
President Jacob Zuma and Pravin Gordhan (File, Alexander Joe, AFP)

President Jacob Zuma and Pravin Gordhan (File, Alexander Joe, AFP)

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Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma’s 75th birthday is one that he is sure to remember.

He shares a birthday with a comrade - with whom his relationship has broken down to the point that he had to fire him - former finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

The day also comes as thousands of South Africans call for Zuma to resign as head of state.

The president says his birthday wish is to see more progress made in building a better life for the poor and the working class.

"I would like to see us making more progress in fighting poverty and inequality. We need to make progress in black economic empowerment to promote true economic freedom. I also wish to see us winning the battle against racism in our country," he said in a statement.

"We remain committed to building a non-racial society and will continue to work hard to unite our people against racism and all its manifestations. My wish is also to see more citizens working with the police and government to rid our communities of crime and building safer communities".

Zuma has come under fire for saying that the nationwide marches against him on Friday showed that racism was still alive in South Africa.

Following Zuma's controversial Cabinet reshuffle, two credit ratings agencies downgraded the country to so-called "junk status".

The Presidency said Zuma was preparing for a special Cabinet meeting to discuss the current economic situation in the country, with a view to "uniting stakeholders and the whole country towards finding solutions, as was done when the first economic crisis set in around 2008, which has hardly subsided during his two terms of office".

"Working together, we will find solutions," said Zuma.

Time with family

The ANC is expected to celebrate his birthday at the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication, in Kliptown, at 15:00 on Wednesday.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula wished Zuma a happy birthday on Tuesday, saying, "Ukhule ungakhokhobi, sikugadile, siyibambile" - loosely meaning, "may you get old, but never bend over like the elderly, we are watching and protecting you, we have everything under control".

Gordhan told News24 on Tuesday that he would be spending his birthday with close family and friends at home.

When asked if he had a special message for Zuma, he laughed and said: "Happy Birthday, that’s all." Gordhan turns 68.

While Zuma celebrates his birthday, thousands of South Africans are expected to fill the streets of Pretoria to express their anger and frustration in a "National Day of Action".

A multi-party demonstration will march to the Union Buildings at noon on Wednesday.

Various opposition parties are calling for Zuma to step down following his dramatic Cabinet reshuffle, which saw the axing of Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas.

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  pravin gordhan  |  pretoria  |  national day of action  |  politics

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