JOHANNESBURG – As the nation comes to terms with the reshuffling of cabinet members after President Jacob Zuma’s shock late-night announcement last night, political parties have come out strongly against the axing of ministers including former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas.
The Democratic Alliance has called on the nation to take part in a motion of no confidence vote, in order to call upon the powers of parliament to remove Zuma as president.
“It is Parliament who hired Jacob Zuma and it is Parliament that can fire him. We therefore urge all political parties, including members of the ANC, to vote President Jacob Zuma out when the DA’s motion of no confidence is debated in the National Assembly,” Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said.
Meanwhile the National Freedom Party has reacted by calling the move by the president as “an early April Fool’s joke”.
“We consider these changes … as an early April Fool’s joke. We believe he will wake up before it’s too late and redo the reshuffling – and fire all incompetent and useless people like Bathabile Dlamini, Faith Muthambi and Blade Nzimande. For now we consider this as an early April Fool’s game,” National Freedom Party head of communications Sabelo Sigudu said.
Yesterday the South African Communist Party held a press conference where they admitted to having prior knowledge of the firing of Gordhan and his deputy, but were strongly opposed to it.
Yesterday the Economic Freedom Fighters – who haven’t yet had an official reaction to the reshuffle – made a court application to force the speaker of parliament to institute disciplinary measures against Jacob Zuma.
But this morning EFF leader Julius Malema said that the party was in full support of the DA’s motion of no confidence vote.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has confirmed he is not happy with the developments.
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He told 702 presenter Xolani Gwala this morning that the list of new ministers was developed somewhere else and given to the top six to legitimise.
“We were given a list that was complete and my own view as the secretary-general, I felt like this list has been developed somewhere else and it’s given to us to legitimise it,” he said on air this morning.
“And my own view is that I’m very uncomfortable because areas where ministers do not perform have not been touched. Ministers have been moved and the majority of them were good performing ministers. I’m very much uncomfortable with it.”
In a very strongly worded statement, Zwelinzima Vavi and Patrick Craven – on behalf of the South African Federation of Trade Unions – appealed to all South Africans to flood the streets of Pretoria and symbolically occupy the Treasury in the strongest possible protest.
This was echoed by the Save South Africa campaign, who called the reshuffle and “outrage” and called on South Africans to stand up and fight.
“It is a brazen attempt to undermine the gains of the liberation struggle by taking power away from the people and handing it over to a clique based in Dubai. It is therefore a Gupta coup and final confirmation – for those who needed it – that our president, our government and our country have been captured by compradors intent on destroying our democracy,” the campaign organisers said today.
Vavi and Craven said the announcement confirmed their “worst fears that the country has now been plunged into its biggest crisis since 1994”.
“We now have a government with no credibility, one which has surrendered power to powerful crony capitalist factions and delivered a slap in the face of millions of South Africans,” they said.
“The main issue is not the fate of individuals but the fact that this move means that Zuma’s kleptocratic faction of the ANC is making a desperate bid to cling on to power in the face of overwhelming opposition from not only the South African Federation of Trade Unions but civil society and even within the ANC’s allies.”
The federation saw the reshuffle as giving “the thieves and looters” the “green light to continue and increase their manipulation of government and state-owned enterprises contracts to line their pockets for as long as we allow them to get away with it”.
“If the Zuma faction continues what they are doing it will leave us with a country mortgaged to the Guptas and/or to the Russian, French, Chinese or Americans capitalists through things like the nuclear deal.”
Meanwhile, Save South Africa is organising a march at Church Square, outside the National Treasury, at 10am today, and has urged all South Africans to show their objection to “this Gupta-inspired coup”. The march will be echoed on social media with the #OccupyTreasury hashtag.
“We must march to the Union Buildings, and similar marches should take place at Parliament. We must join hands in common cause and show that we are not prepared to accept any further abuse of power and the undermining of our Constitution,” Save South Africa said.