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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

South Africans to march against President Jacob Zuma on Friday

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africans from different walks of life will take part in the countrywide protests on Friday demanding that President Zuma should resign.

The march will be done in various cities including Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

Those who will participate are from the political parties, civil society, business, faith-based organizations, student organizations and trade unions.

The march is a call for President Jacob Zuma to step down.

This comes after he reshuffled the cabinet last week which resulted with the rand plummeting and the credit rating agency S&P downgrading the country’s long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating to sub investment with a negative outlook.

The opposition political party, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane said the Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane have assured him that there will be a peaceful demonstration.

The ruling party, African National Congress (ANC) called for calm during protests on Friday.

"As the planned day of protests approaches, the ANC calls on all South Africans to organize in a calm and measured fashion.

"We should not allow inflammatory rhetoric from certain elements, including on social media, to damage our fragile social fabric and turn South Africans against each other," ANC’s spokesperson Kusela Sangoni said.

"The ANC encourages all South Africans to report any incidents of illegality, intimidation or coercion to the relevant law enforcement authorities, both in the days leading up to the demonstrations, and on the day." he added.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

Seven South African banks downgraded to 'non investment' status

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- The international rating agency S&P downgraded South Africa’s seven financial institutions to non investment grade on Thursday.

This came three days after S&P downgraded the country’s foreign currency ratings to sub investment (junk status).

The banks whose ratings were lowered include Barclays bank, BNP Paribas Personal Finance South Africa, Investec bank, Nedbank, FirstRand bank, Absa and FirstRand.

"We lowered our ratings on the financial institutions because we do not rate South African banks above the foreign currency sovereign credit ratings.

"This is because of the likely direct and indirect influence of sovereign distress on domestic banks’ operations, including their ability to service foreign currency obligations, " S&P noted in a statement.

S&P warned that they could lower the banks with a negative outlook ratings again when they downgrade the country’s foreign currency rating.

Weak economic growth and political instability are cited as among the reasons for the downgrade.

The rating agency however noted that the country’ financial institutions have been resilient.

Last year, the country’s economic growth was about 0.3 percent while this year it’s expected to be slightly above one percent.

"The lowering of the ratings on South Africa reflects our view that political and institutional stability in the country has weakened.

However, amid slow economic growth and political turbulence, South African banks have been performing resiliently, " S&P added.
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ANC Parliament Caucus to vote against motion of 'no confidence' in Zuma

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The African National Congress (ANC) in Parliament said on Thursday it will vote against a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

The motion, submitted by opposition parties, has been scheduled for April 18 amid growing calls for Zuma to resign after he reshuffled the cabinet, affecting 10 ministers and 10 deputy ministers, notably Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

"As members of the ANC in Parliament, we have been inundated with mischievous calls, text messages and emails by faceless individuals and organizations lobbying us to disregard the party line and vote in accordance with our individual taste as dictated by our conscious and lobby groups in the upcoming motion," the ANC Chief Whip Office said in a statement.

These calls are not only disingenuous, but also highly unfortunate as they seek to suggest that ANC MPs are free agents open to all sorts of mischievous lobbying and manipulation by the opposition and other forces, said the office.

The very same opposition making these calls have always voted along party lines yet they expect ANC MPs not to be guided and directed by their political party, said the statement.

"We reiterate that as ANC members of parliament we derive our political mandate from the organization.

"We will abide by the decision of the ANC National Working Committee as announced by ANC Secretary General comrade Gwede Mantashe that the ANC does not and will not support this motion," the statement said.

The ANC also rejects calls by opposition parties for a secret ballot in the motion of no confidence.

"The Constitution of the Republic is clear that a secret ballot in the House applies only in the process of electing the President, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.

"There is no provision in the rules of the National Assembly for such a call," the statement said.

This call is therefore in violation of the laws of parliament as an institution and the Constitution, said the statement.

Some ANC MPs reportedly voiced fear that they would be removed if they vote in support of the motion.

For a vote of no confidence motion to be successful, it requires 201 of the 400 National Assembly MPs to vote in favour.

If the motion is successful, then the president, his deputy, cabinet ministers and all their deputies must resign as provided for in section 102 of the Constitution.

In 2016, Zuma survived two no confidence motions in Parliament which is dominated by ANC MPs.
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ANC distances itself from call to take up arms in self-defence

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Thursday distanced itself from radical ANC members who threatened to take up arms in self-defence as a national shutdown approached.

The party made the statement ahead of the national shutdown scheduled for Friday.

Opposition parties and civic organizations are planning nationwide protest actions against President Jacob Zuma, including a march to the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg, prompting radical ANC members to threaten to take up arms in defence of the organization and Zuma.

"We condemn in the harshest possible terms reports of people seeking to take up arms in the name of the ANC.

"Such behavior has no place in a democratic society," the party said.

The ANC also denied reports that it has organized pro-ANC marches to counter the protests.

Organizers of Friday’s planned national shutdown have appealed to ANC leaders to join their action aimed at persuading President Jacob Zuma to step down.

Leaders from civil society, religious bodies and even ANC stalwarts have called on Zuma to quit, following the cabinet reshuffle last week, which saw the dismissal of Pravin Gordhan as Finance Minister.

The ANC said it is concerned at reports of sporadic violence and intimidation in the run-up to the planned so-called "day of action" on Friday.

"Such actions have no place in democratic South Africa and threaten to turn the country back to a time where civic activism by citizens was stifled in the name of ‘preserving law and order’", the party said.

As the planned day of protests approaches, the ANC calls on all South Africans to organize in a calm and measured fashion, ANC acting national spokesperson Khusela Sangoni said.

"We should not allow inflammatory rhetoric from certain elements, including on social media, to damage our fragile social fabric and turn South Africans against each other," said Sangoni.

The ANC encourages all South Africans to report any incidents of illegality, intimidation or coercion to the relevant law enforcement authorities, both in the days leading up to the demonstrations, and on the day, he said.

             

 

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