On April 12, 2017, more than thirty thousand people marched outside the Union Building in the capital city of South Africa, Pretoria, to force South African President Jacob Zuma to resign from office. Zuma has faced multiple charges that have severely damaged his reputation since taking office in 2009. The protest further demonstrated his dwindling public support.
The march was a response to Zuma’s dismissal of renowned cabinet members, namely the finance minister and his deputy, Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas, respectively. Gordhan and Jonas, highly-regarded economists in South Africa, are credited with terminating one of Zuma’s military plans that would have severely undermined the economy. Zuma proposed an estimated 73 billion USD construction of nuclear power plants that that would have been futile and too expensive for South Africa to maintain. Under Zuma, the South African economy has staggered, and the country’s unemployment rate has risen to twenty-six percent.
Zuma’s presidency has also been soiled by multiple legal charges and scandals. In 2004, Zuma and his financial advisor were charged with embezzlement, and in 2016 he faced over 783 corruption charges. He has also been accused of rape. Although he was not found guilty, his public criticism heightened.
Zuma is not rattled by the demonstrations, however. He commented in an interview, “I’m not worried when people call me names. I’ve been called names for years. The opposition are doing their job, which is to oppose, don’t be worried.” Nonetheless, news media indicates that the Zuma has a 20% chance of resigning, considering the damage that has been done to his reputation.