CAPE TOWN South
Africa (Xinhua) -- Thousands of people
gathered outside Parliament on Friday to demand the resignation
of South African President Jacob Zuma.
The protest went
on peacefully under the watchful eye of police.
It was part of a nationwide shutdown amid growing calls for
Zuma to resign. Pro-Zuma marchers also arrived in Parliament to
counter anti-Zuma protests.
Police said the number of anti-Zuma protesters outnumbered
that of pro-Zuma marchers, who are staunch supporters of the
ruling African National Congress (ANC).
More people arrived in mid-day to join in anti-Zuma
"It is one of the biggest protest against Zuma during his
tenure," a police officer said on condition of anonymity.
Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and his
wife Leah joined anti-Zuma protesters in Hermanus near Cape
Elsewhere in Cape Town, protesters formed human chains along
streets, to express their unhappiness with Zuma who is facing
mounting pressure to resign after he reshuffled the cabinet last
The reshuffle affected 10 ministers and 10 deputy ministers,
notably Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
The reshuffle led to ratings agency Standard and Poor’s
downgrading of South Africa’s credit outlook to junk status and
a significant weakening of the rand.
Leaders from civil society, religious bodies and even ANC
stalwarts have called on Zuma to quit.
On Thursday, the ANC warned against violence during the
It distanced itself from radical ANC members who threatened
to take up arms in self-defence during the national shutdown,
organized by opposition parties and civic organizations.
"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.
There have been reports of sporadic violence and intimidation
in the run-up to the planned so-called "day of action" on
"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.
The ANC called 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," said
The ANC said freedom of expression and association are the
unalienable rights of all South Africans and are guaranteed by
By equal measure, in line with the right to freedom of
association, it is also the prerogative of those who choose not
to participate in any demonstrations, to not do so, the party
said, adding that this should be respected and any form of
coercion with regards to participation in the planned
demonstrations, should be condemned.
South Africans march
against President Jacob Zuma
PRETORIA South Africa (Xinhua) --
South Africans on Friday marched
across the country calling for President Jacob Zuma to step down
while his supporters also marched in solidarity with him.
The demonstration came after President Jacob Zuma reshuffled
the cabinet and rating agencies S&P and Fitch respectively
downgraded the country’s foreign currency sovereign credit
Those marching accused Zuma for all these including the fall
in the rand against the major currencies.
They marched in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, and other
parts of the country calling for Zuma to step down.
Some were standing in malls and bridges with placards. Xinhua
attended the march in Pretoria to the State House which was
attended by over 20,000 people.
A coalition of civil society and political parties marched in
the Pretoria to the State House (Union Buildings) under the
banner of Save South Africa.
Zwelinzima Vavi, South African Federation of Trade Union
leader also addressed the crowd and called for Zuma’s ouster.
Vavi said it was a mistake to put Zuma in power and called on
South Africans to join in efforts to remove him.
The opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi
Maimane addressed the crowd saying:
"We are embarking on a movement for change which seeks to
create opportunities for all and build a prosperous and diverse
nation ... this country needs a leader that is going to put the
people first and not themselves."
Some also protested outside the house owned by the rich
Indian family Guptas.
The Guptas are accused of telling the president what to do.
Meanwhile, the African National Congress’(ANC) armed wing
during the liberation struggle Umkhonto WeSizwe gathered outside
the party headquarters Luthuli House saying they want to defend
They were also joined by the ANC supporters, who carried
placards written with "leave Zuma alone".
Fitch downgrades South
Africa to 'junk' investment status
By Ndumiso Mlilo JOHANNESBURG South
Africa (Xinhua) -- The international
rating agency Fitch on Friday downgraded South Africa long-term
foreign and local-currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) from
BBB- to BB+ (Non-investment grade speculative or junk rating).
Fitch remained the country’s outlook stable.
The issue ratings on South Africa’s senior unsecured foreign-
and local-currency bonds were also downgraded to BB+ from BBB-.
The rating agency said the replacement of the Finance
Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, is likely
to result in a change in the direction of South Africa’s
"The downgrade of South Africa’s long-term IDRs reflects
Fitch’s view that recent political events, including a major
cabinet reshuffle, will weaken standards of governance and
public finances," Fitch said in a statement.
"The reshuffle partly reflected efforts by the out-going
finance minister to improve the governance of state-owned
The reshuffle is likely to undermine, if not reverse,
progress in SOE governance, raising the risk that SOE debt could
migrate onto the government’s balance sheet," the statement
Fitch said with the new finance and energy minister, the
country’s expensive nuclear program is likely to be accelerated.
They believe this would increase contingent liabilities,
which are already sizable.
The government’s guarantee exposure to public institutions,
according to the 2017/18 budget was R308.3 billion (22.34
billion U.S. dollars) at the end March 2017, up from R255.8
billion a year earlier.
The State enterprises have additional liabilities of R463
billion in 2016 with no explicit guarantee.
The government has on many occasions bailed loss making SOEs
particular the power Eskom.
"Fitch believes that following the government reshuffle,
fiscal consolidation will be less of a priority given the
president’s focus on ‘radical socioeconomic transformation’.
This means that renewed shortfalls in revenues, for example
as a result of lower than expected GDP growth, are less likely
to be compensated by expenditure and revenue measures." said
"This could put upward pressure on general government debt,
which at an estimated 53 percent of GDP at end-March 2017 was
already slightly above the BB category median of 51 percent,"
The new finance minister Malusi Gigaba has said he will
continue with Gordhan’s fiscal policy and will not have a policy
South Africa is currency battling to contain the triple
challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Fitch believes that with tensions in the ruling party,
African National Congress (ANC) and pressure in the public
service delivery will force Treasury to exceed its demands for
Fitch also said, "political uncertainty was already an
important factor behind weak growth last year, as in Fitch’s
assessment it has affected the willingness of companies to
The agency believes that the cabinet reshuffle will further
undermine the investment climate.
Fitch forecasts GDP growth of 1.2 percent in 2017 and 2.1
percent in 2018, but the reshuffle has raised downside risks."
Some issues were raised as sensitive and could individually
or collectively result in negative rating action.
These include the failure to stabilize the government
debt/GDP ratio or an increase in contingent liabilities.
They also cited the failure of GDP growth to recover
sustainability due to sustained uncertainty about economic
The rising net external debt to levels that raise the
potential for serious financing strains on the country could
result in further downgrade, noted Fitch.
This comes after another rating agency S&P downgraded the
country foreign currency sovereign rating to sub investment
early this week. S&P also downgraded South Africa’s seven banks
foreign currency ratings to junk status on Thursday.
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.
South Africans prepare for march against President Jacob