President Jacob Zuma celebrates his 75th birthday today, but one imagines that he will have more on his mind than just birthday cake and Champagne.
Even though Number 1 has been putting on a brave face and is – by all accounts – vigorously pushing back against the rising chorus of voices demanding that he step down, it will be difficult for him to ignore a second mass protest, in less than a week, calling for his scalp.
On Friday, about 60 000 South Africans took to the streets across the country to show their disdain for Zuma, whose recent Cabinet reshuffle led to the country’s downgrade to junk status by two international ratings agencies.
It appears that on top of all the previous scandals and controversies surrounding Zuma, his unpopular Cabinet shake-up and the resultant downgrade might have been the last straw. The floodgates seem to have opened.
Wednesday’s march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, even though it may not attract the numbers that last week’s protests did, will arguably deliver an even more powerful message to the Zuma cabal.
Significantly, Zuma’s divisive leadership has made for some unusual bedfellows, and herein, perhaps, lies the main thrust of today’s mass action: for the first time, the country’s opposition parties are standing united.
On Monday, during a joint press conference, a number of them announced they have joined forces in their calls for Zuma to go.
One imagines that even Zuma has to be thinking this may well be his last birthday in office.
Happy birthday, Mr President. It’s time to go.