Protesters urge South Africa’s Zuma, top ANC leaders to quit party posts

South Africa President Jacob Zuma

Members of South Africa’s ANC chanted slogans outside its headquarters on Monday in Johannesburg demanding President Jacob Zuma to step down in a rare public show of anger.

A report noted that the demonstrators that outnumbered on the streets gave a list of their grievances to Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe.

They argue that Zuma, whose rule has been tainted by scandal, is responsible for the African National Congress (ANC) losing major areas.

The protesters said that they lost control of three major urban centres in local elections last month by mismanagement of the economy that is now teetering on the edge of recession.

It said that the demonstration kept political tension high in the country, where markets have been rocked by a police investigation into Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Camouflage-clad veterans of the ANC’s now-disbanded Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) military wing, its Youth League and police with armoured vehicles ringed the party’s Luthuli House building in downtown Johannesburg, causing a stand-off with the protesters.

The report said further that some of the protesters carried placards, with one emblazoned, “Resign with immediate effect, ANC NEC and Jacob Zuma”, referring to the party’s National Executive Committee of Zuma and five other party leaders.

A placard by rival Zuma supporters read “Don’t try this at Luthuli House”.

Meanwhile, critics of Zuma said that Gordhan is the target of an ANC faction allied to Zuma, even though that the president’s office has denied claims Zuma was warring with Gordhan.

They said Zuma has badly compromised his relationship with the Guptas, a family of wealthy Indian businessmen with interests ranging from media and mining, who the opposition says exerts undue political influence over the president.

They, however, said although the ANC won the most votes overall in the Aug. 3 local polls, its reputation was badly bruised by its loss of support mainly in major cities.

Prince Mashele, Head of the Centre for Politics and Research, a Pretoria-based think-tank said more internal squabbles were likely following the election losses, but would only bring change if they were led by senior party figures.

He said that an effective way would be to have big heavyweights in the ANC to discuss the problem.

Mashele said if it failed, then they should organise a march for the protest to be effective.