Axed Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas and Sipho Pityana, the chairperson of Save South Africa movement, are on Tuesday expected to speak about President Jacob Zuma’s solo midnight Cabinet reshuffle at a protest rally.
Jonas and his boss Pravin Gordhan were dropped from the Cabinet in the middle of the night on Thursday in a reshuffle that affected 10 ministries.
Since then the backlash has been severe – top members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) including deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa have criticised the removal of Gordhan as finance minister.
While noting that it was the President’s prerogative to hire and fire ministers, ANC Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize, party Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe and Ramaphosa publicly opposed the sacking of Gordhan and the reshuffle itself.
This was because they said Gordhan was doing a good job until his fate was sealed by a dodgy intelligence report, which alleged that he and Jonas were plotting against the President. They also pointed out that ministers who were not doing well in their portfolios were retained by Zuma.
The rand went into freefall soon after the reshuffle. Ratings urgencies have already reacted. On Monday S&P Global downgraded South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to junk status.
Jonas and Piyana are scheduled to speak on the reshuffle and the consequences thereafter at the protest organised under the banner of #SaveSouthAfrica, which regularly calls for Zuma to be removed as President.
Prominent Nelson Mandela Bay businessman Khusta Jack, who is one of the organisers of the rally, asked metro residents to attend in solidarity with the cause.
“We expect people to come, nobody is going to be bussed to come. We are asking people to come and show their solidarity and rejection of President Zuma’s rule by being present,” he said.
Jack said the protest rally was set to take place outside PE City Hall from 1pm.
Meanwhile leaders of the Democratic Alliance (DA), the United Democratic Movement (UDM), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), United Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), Congress of the People (Cope) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are holding hands in attempt to get a no confidence motion against Zuma to be urgently heard in Parliament.
Parliament has 400 members and for the motion to succeed‚ 201 would have to support the motion of no confidence in Zuma.
MPs are due to return to the National Assembly in May, however are calling on proceedings to resume sooner.
ANC chairperson and Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete cut short a scheduled trip to Bangladesh over the weekend and held an impromptu media briefing amidst calls for a vote of no confidence in Zuma.
Mbete said she would start with consultation process as to establish if there were grounds for the no confidence motion to proceed.