South African president Jacob Zuma targeted by activists

Opposition failed to have ANC leader Zuma impeached for flouting the constitution

South Africa’s deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and president Jacob Zuma stand during the playing of the national anthem in parliament in Cape Town. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reutes

South Africa’s deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and president Jacob Zuma stand during the playing of the national anthem in parliament in Cape Town. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reutes

 

South African opposition parties’ failure to have president Jacob Zuma impeached for flouting the constitution has spurred civil society to form a mass movement to agitate for his removal from office.

Representatives of NGOs, religious organisations, anti-corruption bodies, activists and more senior members of the ruling party gathered on the steps of the constitutional court in Johannesburg yesterday to outline their plan to force Mr Zuma to stand down.

The as yet unnamed group, which includes Section 27, Corruption Watch, the Treatment Action Campaign, former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils and former top judge Zac Yacoob, to name but a few, stated the opposition’s failure to remove the president meant it was up to ordinary South Africans to act.

On Tuesday opposition parties tabled a motion in the National Assembly to have Mr Zuma removed from office, but it was easily defeated by the African National Congress, which holds a 62 per cent majority in the lower house.

Their motion was prompted by a constitutional court ruling last week that stated the president failed to uphold the constitution by not complying with a corruption watchdog’s finding that he should reimburse the public purse for non-security upgrades made to his rural Nkandla home.

Initially the movement plans to hold nationwide dialogues as well as other forms of social mobilisation to gather a broad base of support for whatever activities there are to come.

Aside from Mr Kasrils, other top ANC veterans to attend the event were Cheryl Carolus and Mavuso Msimang. Their presence further swells a growing list of well-respected ANC members no longer at the ruling party’s core who are fed up with Mr Zuma’s leadership and are willing to do something about it.

Carolus, a former South African high commissioner in London, said that voicing her dissatisfaction with the ANC did not mean that she was a disgruntled member of the ruling party, but rather one that was fighting for its future.

“I watched last night and was sad that this actually happened under our watch. I call on everyone and those in the ANC to stand up and say ‘enough is enough’ . . . president please resign!,” she said.

The launch of the movement also coincided with the announcement that local elections will be held on August 3rd next, a poll that is taking on increasing importance, given it gives South Africans the chance to state at the ballot box whether they still support Mr Zuma or not.