About 700 residents of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality gathered at the Dan Qeqe stadium in Zwide on Thursday for a Freedom Day meeting centred on calls for the removal of President Jacob Zuma.
Save South Africa founder Sipho Pityana told the crowd: “Jacob Zuma must go now.”
He said Zuma was blocking an investigation into the State of Capture report filed by the former public protector Thuli Madonsela. “How dare anybody sell our country to the Guptas and the Russians? This country is not for sale. South Africa is not for sale,” said Pityana.
He said faith groups, trade unions and opposition political parties were all calling for Zuma to go. “Even the masses and the veterans in the ANC are saying so. Why is the ANC not recalling him? What kind of ANC is capable and willing to tolerate a leader who is so immoral, so corrupt and greedy and who cares for nobody but himself, his family and his cronies?”
Pityana urged ANC members not to “hide” during the parliamentary vote on the motion to remove Zuma. “The time has come for the ANC to act. This is not the time for cowards. It is the time for leadership.”
“Leadership is not about positions, but about standing up and doing the right thing even if it is painful to do that,” said Pityana. “True leaders must stand up and cowards get out of the way.” Pityana said his movement was not fighting only for the removal of Jacob Zuma, but for the restoration of good governance even after Zuma had left.
Former Constitutional Court judge Zak Yacoob said Zuma had abused the country’s constitution. “Our constitution is about dignity, equality and freedom. The constitution provides for a transparent and open government.”
“The rule of law and the law are being used by corrupt and dishonest people to enable them to do whatever they want,” Yacoob said. “This must stop.”
Anglican bishop Bethlehem Nopece said the government had been trusted but “that trust is gone”.
“This government of President Zuma must fall.”
Thandi Silunda, 32, who was in the crowd, said she did not see the point of Freedom Day celebrations because she had nothing to celebrate. The Zwide mother of three, who makes a living selling chickens and sheeps’ heads and feet, said: “I have been looking for a job since I completed a diploma in marketing. I am always told to pay a bribe for my application to be considered. I wish this government could fall, including corrupt municipalities, because there are many corrupt officials there.”