A list of protest marches being organised against President Jacob Zuma has created a craze on social media. The page titled We Are South Africans is part of a social coalition movement calling on South Africans to unite under one banner and to use their voice against the President.
The organisers have set aside April 7th for what they have described as a National Shutdown. With protests taking place all over South Africa, including metros like Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria and even smaller towns such as Klerksdorp, Stilfontein and Mossel Bay and abroad in London and Berlin.
On Monday, the South African government noted their concern with the call for mass protest action on Friday saying that they “do not support civil disobedience”.
Protest organiser Gilbert Martin has however said they are exercising their constitutional right and have no interest in being violent.[pullquote]”We want to do it as is the nature of the South African spirit, disciplined, correct and according to the law”[/pullquote]
“I understand where the government is coming from and we have told them that this is not violent, we do not support violence,” said Martin.
He added that the organizers have educated people about the legal processes involved in protest action.
“They (Government ) have told us that we must participate in democracy and we are doing that now, maybe a little too late some but we are understanding the pain of all spheres of our country.
“We want to do it as is the nature of the South African spirit, disciplined, correct and according to the law,” said Martin.
He noted, while there may be fears among citizens about whether they can stay out of work to protest, it is common sense to ask employers to take the day off.
“You need to be a responsible South African citizen, pick up the phone and phone your boss or CEO and say to them we really want to support this. You can take paid or unpaid leave to do this, then you agree legally and do it the right way but to just simply stay away, is not the right thing to do.”
The protest action has been criticized for serving the middle class agenda
Criticism against the reasoning for the protests has also arisen as people feel that it only caters for the interest of one demographic, more specifically, middle class white South Africans, he suggested that history cannot be undone. Martin said Cape Town will always be regarded middle to upper class while Johannesburg will always be the powerhouse and Durban will always be the beautiful port side because of these major cities’ history and geographic location.[pullquote]“It is not about one man, it is not about one political party. It is about our country at this moment and this is why we the people have stood up and said we are now going to say enough”[/pullquote]
“In those cities, whether you be in any demographic, there will be always be middle class in that area.”
Martin spoke at length about how further downgrades by rating agencies will have an effect on business and the economy.
“When the last two rating agencies say we are junk, all the foreign investors will pull their money out of this country, our country will be bankrupt, we’ll be sitting at the World Bank begging for money.”
For this reason, Martin said the protest to recall President Jacob is linked to the interest of all South Africans.
“This protest is one little thing we all in this country are saying together, we are the people, we are the voice, lead us and led us correctly and if it means that you have to recall your President then do that. That is what we’re asking for because everyone else that is putting money in this country, everyone that is working in this country is angry with one man.”
Martin said that they want the ANC to recall the President and replace him with another leader within the party. “It is not about one man, it is not about one political party. It is about our country at this moment and this is why we the people have stood up and said we are now going to say enough,” he said.
List of protests taking place in Cape Town.
Listen to the Full interview here: