Most shop owners in the Pretoria CBD have indicated they will not open for business today due to the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) mass march through the city calling for President Jacob Zuma to step down.
Addressing a crowd of EFF supporters outside the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria yesterday, where Zuma’s bid to block the former public protector’s report on state capture is being heard, EFF leader Julius Malema said: “We are not playing games here. We will occupy every street of Tshwane demanding free quality education and for [President Jacob] Zuma and NPA head Shaun Abrahams to resign.
“There is no army, there is no one who can tell us to leave Pretoria. We have arrived in Pretoria. We are not going anywhere until our demands have been met. The streets of Pretoria belong to us.”
Despite the fact that the EFF did not have permission for the march, it could not be stopped, he added. “We don’t need permission to come out in our numbers to show our dissatisfaction with hypocrisy.
“Our government is in the hands of criminals, run by criminals, handed over to a Gupta family and we in the EFF are saying enough is enough. Zuma must step down as president. The fact is that he is not fit to be a president. He has completely failed our people.”
He warned white police officers not to be present during today’s march, as it would remind them of the past. “They must send their black seniors,” he added.
He also said he could not guarantee that shops would be safe. Some shops had already closed yesterday afternoon and shop owners had taken extra measures to protect their property, including hiring security guards.
The EFF commander-in-chief also issued a warning to the Tshwane metro police, saying South Africa was not a police state and that “this country will never be militarised by Zuma dictators”.
Malema said the police should concentrate on safeguarding the Paul Kruger statue in Pretoria and asked his supporters not to vandalise it.
He made it clear that the purpose of the protest was not to defend Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, but to demand that Zuma step down. He said if Zuma was allowed to continue as the country’s president, the economy would collapse.
Moving on, he said the demand for free education was not unreasonable and called on all parents to join the protest today.
“As parents, we must not complain about our children who are protesting.
“They are doing it on behalf of their parents because it’s not those kids who pay their fees, it is parents. Children are fighting for their parents and now we are calling on the parents to come and fight for themselves.
“They must stop being cowards. We want free education. These people who refuse you free education don’t want you to be better than the white person.”
He asked the police not to arrest more students and to “stop behaving like apartheid police harassing people with stun grenades and join the struggle”.