We are not a 'junk' country - Maimane

2017-04-07 15:14

'We are marching for ethical leadership' - DA's Phumzile van Damme

2017-04-07 10:28

The Democratic Alliance and its supporters are marching from the Westgate transport hub to Mary Fitzgerald Square in Johannesburg on Friday. Spokesperson Phumzile van Damme explains why South Africans need to take part in the Anti-Zuma protests. Watch. WATCH

Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma and the ANC have led the country into a crisis, but there is still hope that the people of South Africa can rescue it from the brink, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said on Friday.

Referencing the recent downgrade of the country by Standard & Poor's to so-called "junk status", Maimane said the nationwide protests against Zuma filled him with hope.

It emerged later on Friday that ratings agency Fitch had also downgraded the country.

"We are not a 'junk' country. Jacob Zuma may have led us to this point, but we are embarking on a movement for change which seeks to create opportunities for all and build a prosperous, diverse nation," he told thousands of party supporters gathered at Mary Fitzgerald Square.

"This is a new struggle, a moment we can charter a better tomorrow. Fellow South Africans, just when Jacob Zuma wants us divided, we are united.

"The people of South Africa will never accept the destruction of our country. We will stand up and stop it, together."

'I am filled with hope'

The protests were organised following Zuma's Cabinet reshuffle last week, which saw former finance minister Pravin Gordhan axed.

Maimane, who appeared to be wearing a bulletproof vest under his DA T-shirt, told supporters that Friday's action was only the beginning.

"Today, looking out at all of you I am filled with hope. Today is a defining moment in the history of our country. The moment when South Africans stood together against a corrupt president and his government.

"All around the country hundreds of thousands of people are gathering to make their voice heard... We have all had enough of Jacob Zuma and the corrupt ANC government he leads.

"We have had enough of the Guptas and their stranglehold on our country and our economy."

Maimane said it was time for South Africans to act.

"We cannot wait for the ANC to self-correct. We need to forge a new path, and decide our own destiny," he said.

"We the people shall overcome. Our country is calling on all of us to achieve this dream... We will do it by joining hands with those in the ANC who still have a conscience.

"South Africa is not the property of one individual, one family or one party. South Africa belongs to all of us, black and white. This is our beautiful country. It is time that we took it back."

Protester attacked

Police told News24 that five people were injured during protests in the Johannesburg city centre on Friday.

Four were shot at with rubber bullets and another suffered serious injuries after being attacked by ANC supporters at Beyers Naude Square near the party's Luthuli House headquarters.

ANC members gathered outside the headquarters, saying they were defending it.

News24 was reliably informed that there were snipers on the roof of the building.

Gauteng police spokesperson Mathapelo Peters said: "The police were forced to use rubber bullets, that's been communicated by the JMPD who were forced to restrain ANC supporters who were about to cross over to Mary Fitzgerald."

Earlier, demonstrators outside Luthuli House grabbed and attacked one of three people, believed to be DA supporters, who had ran into their march with a banner that read: "You must be joking".

Read more on:    da  |  mmusi maimane  |  jacob zuma  |  johannesburg  |  protests  |  cabinet reshuffle  |  politics

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