#ZumaMustFall unites thousands on social media
Kaveel Singh, News24
Durban – Social media has united thousands of South Africans who are calling for President Jacob Zuma to step down from his position as number one citizen.
This comes after a number of shuffles in the vital Ministry of Finance were made this past week. In the latest change, Pravin Gordhan was redeployed late on Sunday as Minister of Finance to replace David Van Rooyen, who spent just four days in the position after the removal of Nhlanhla Nene.
Van Rooyen has been moved to Gordhan’s previous portfolio as the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta).
Zuma has been heavily criticised for the changes, with the rand going on a downward spiral after Nene was originally sacked.
By the Monday, several Facebook pages had been created with tens of thousands of people from major cities across the country calling for peaceful marches on December 16.
Thus far, event pages for protest marches have been created for Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay.
Most of the #Zumamustfall event pages were created by an organisation called United Against Corruption.
Speaking to News24, United Against Corruption steering committee member Miles Giljam said the shuffle in the Finance Ministry showed a lack of leadership.
“We cannot be pacified by the improved economic indicators. It is crucial for South Africans to push with every fibre of their exhausted pre-holiday bodies for Zuma to be recalled.
“To understand why we need to know the real cause of the crisis was not economic - it was about trust. Markets are held together by trust. The economic issues were a symptom of a lack of trust in our President and his intentions in firing Nene. The improvement in the Rand only reflects trust in the independence of the new finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
“Zuma’s removal of Nene to open his way to influencing the Treasury in the nuclear deal, the South African Airways saga and possibly around the presidential jet, have shown even more starkly what he is prepared to do with impunity to further corrupt the state to serve him and the predator elite that surrounds him. There are even less reasons to trust Zuma after this crisis. And that means it is even more urgent to ensure that we remove him from office.”
A “Zuma must fall march” community page has garnered more than 14 000 likes. The page seems to be the central point for event pages around the country, which was quickly gathering support. In its About section, the page says a plan of action would be finalised by Monday.
The #ZumaMustFall event page, which stemmed from the community page, had thus far, for Johannesburg, garnered the most support with more than 18 000 people confirming they would attend.
Other #ZumaMustFall pages have also called on South Africans to peacefully demonstrate on December 16.
In Cape Town, over 1 000 people have confirmed attendance to a march that aims to “creatively and peacefully express our demand that #ZumaMustFall”.
The Cape Town event page had, however, changed its description after it received criticism for its suggestion to host a peaceful picnic in the Company's Gardens as a form of protest.
A Facebook user on the page, Miriam Mannak, hit back at the suggestion of a picnic saying, it took away from the severity and purpose of the event.
“Seriously... you really think you will make a ... statement about what happened last week, by organising a bloody PICNIC? Do you really think a few hundred people armed with baguettes, cheese, and orange juice will make Jacob Zuma resign/will make people think? Come on people!”
Others were kinder in their criticism with Glen Harrison saying: “My people. This should be a march, not a picnic. Where we end up having a sit down and bring the city to a standstill, if not the 16th then this should be done on a business day. Literally sitting down in the streets from parliament down into the streets of the CBD. Would be perfect doing it when Zuma is in parliament.”
Cape Town Facebook users also cited confusion with a second protest event at parliament in the city. However, this event has yet to be confirmed by any organisation.
According to ROi Media, a company responsible for monitoring social media and news media in the country, #ZumaMustFall made up for 72% of the country's “social conversation”.
Commenting on “social conversation” the media company stated that Oscar Pistorius only accounted for 11% of social media conversations.
“It is almost unprecedented that Pistorius would leave the SA Social charts so dramatically," it said.