The #ZumaMustFall protestors took to the public again this week, not to physically protest for the recalling of the South African president, but instead they put up a huge billboard in central cape Town which is said to be costing about R200+ thousand a month.
On the day of reconciliation in the South African, protestors mainly around the cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg, took to the streets to protest over their dissatisfaction of President Zuma’s job as the head of state. The fundamental reason for these protests around the country was due to protestors feeling that it is time for Zuma to step down as he was “destroying the legacy of those who had died to free the country,” one protestor claimed. Furthermore, the protestors believed that Zuma is making too many mistakes in his term as president and is not looking after the country’s resources especially because of the mismanagement of most parastatal resources. Furthermore, at the core of dissatisfaction was the sudden sacking of Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene on December, 9th 2015. The shocking news resulted in the plummet of the South African currency, which is still under strain. The protestors were thus demanding for the ruling government to urgently look for better ways to govern SA before the country faces serious consequences.
In as much as the dissatisfaction with the current leadership and governance in South Africa is felt by most citizens, the #ZumaMustFall protests cannot be taken as purely as they seem – they have a definite racial undertone to them. Firstly, most of the protestors who took to the streets to protest against this “broken president, who leads a broken society” were white citizens. Above the fact that the protest was not reflective of the larger demographic, there were flags of the apartheid government accompanying some of the protestors. Now, not only was that illegal, but is proved that there are some people in SA who still reminisce about the apartheid era and who seem to feel it was a better governing system than the current democratic dispensation. The protest against Zuma was also hypocritical in the sense that when the students were protesting against university fees, none of the Zuma protestors showed support to their cause, instead there were many racial attacks thrown at the students by white South Africans. Furthermore, the treatment of the Zuma protestors compared to the Fees protestors was completely different. The South African Police Services (SAPS) around the country were not violent and aggressive with the former, instead there we pictures circulating of police officers taking pictures with the protestors. However, the students were subjected to so much brutality by the SAPS and were even arrested for peacefully marching for the realisation of their democratic rights.
Furthermore, the issue with these protests, is the misappropriation of the “Must Fall” tag, which was initially used for more serious and concerning issues such as the Fees protests. Many feel that these Zuma protests are simply to distract the plight of those who fighting a much bigger financial battle (Black people). The African National Congress (ANC) also responded to the protests, condemning them as being against the spirit of reconciliation. The ANC further stated that South Africa needs the collective participation of all citizens as well as opposition parties to ensure that all its potentials and achievements are unleashed.
The Zuma protests are not a shock, in fact they are long overdue. The second term of Zuma’s governance has been filled with a lot of trouble and it has come to a point where citizens have reached their peak with the way he governs. There are many issues that could be counted for the reason why people have lost faith in Zuma, some of them include; his mysterious relationship with the richest family, the Guptas and how they benefit financially and get special favours from the ANC, the arms deal, the Shabir Shaik corruption case (in which Zuma was implicated in), his own corruption and fraud charges as well as the role of some of the ANC politicians in the Fifa scandal in the bid to host the 2010 World Cup. On top of all this the Nkandlagate, the tragic massacre of miners in Marikana, the maladministration of the e-toll system in Gauteng and the ongoing corruption at the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
Therefore one cannot find it unreasonable that South Africans have lost faith in the ruling party and way of governing, especially because all these scandals have both a direct and indirect impact on the lives of ordinary South Africans and the very evident lack of empathy by our leaders about the socio-economic conditions of the poor.
The question of whether the fall of Zuma will change the problems South Africa is plagued with seems to remain in question. Many believe that this nation is in need of proper leadership cleansing, as the current issues are not merely about Zuma’s bad leadership, but deeply rooted within the ANC organisation.