On the 31st of March 2017, President Jacob Zuma made a decision to fire Pravin Gordhan as the Finance Minister. This decision rattled South African markets and led to the country’s debt being downgraded to a junk status by S&P Global Ratings. Following the announcement by the ANC that it will not recall the president, the local currency lost ground and lost around 10% of its value. Because of this, millions of South Africans took to the streets in order to voice their discontent during the first week of April, with Zuma’s opposition parties taking the opportunity to express their unified voice to the nation.
Here is what President Zuma’s opposition parties had to say about the anti-Zuma marches:
The Inkatha Freedom Party said that South Africans should not stand idle as the nation is led into the dark by those who claim that a junk status is a blessing in disguise.
The United Democratic Movement said that South Africans must unite, irrespective of political affiliation, in order to solve the country’s problems. Tebogo Malema was also quoted saying “We’ll mobilise and work together with all opposition parties to make sure that we root out these chameleons.
Congress of the People’s Mosioua Lekota quoted a line from the Constitution which says “South Africa belongs to all who live in it”. He also added that the anti-Zuma march was not a racist march, but a gathering of South Africans from all walks of life who are concerned about the country.
The Democratic Alliance said that it is time that all South Africans stood together in order to protect our democracy.
The Economic Freedom Fighter’s Dali Mpofu confirmed that the march was not an anti-ANC march. “This is about the removal of Zuma. All these parties here are democratic parties. We know that the ANC won the elections in 2014 and they’re going to lose in 2019”, he said.
While the anti-Zuma march allowed South Africans to voice their concerns, some political analysts say that it is unlikely that the march will have the effect that many have hoped for. In the longer term, the downgraded status could lead to higher interest rates, making it harder for individuals to afford their vehicles and home loans. The downgrade also increases risk premiums, meaning that lenders will increase interest rates because of the perceived greater risk of default. In the end, households with capital in investments and assets are going to be affected the most, because their net worth will decrease.