The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Tuesday amended the gathering point and the route for its “March for Change” from Luthuli House to Mary Fitzgerald Square in Johannesburg to ensure the safety of protesters.
The DA was initially set to march to African National Congress (ANC) headquarters in central Johannesburg on Friday in protest against President Jacob Zuma’s recent Cabinet reshuffle.
The DA would be marching amid growing calls for Zuma to be removed as President of South Africa on a day that opposition parties and civil rights organisations have vowed would bring a “national shutdown”.
“Following a meeting held this morning with members of the South African Police Service (SAPS), we have been informed that the SAPS will be unable to protect our marchers and ensure their safety from threats of violence from the ANC,” DA leader Mmusi Maimane said in a statement.
“Numerous threats of violence have been received from the ANC’s Youth League as well as certain branches within the ANC.”
The DA March for Change would now begin at the Westgate Transport Hub at 10am on Friday morning and end at Mary Fitzgerald Square.
Meanwhile, government issued a strong-worded statement assuring all South Africans that Friday would be a normal working day.
Acting director-general of Government Communication and Information System Donald Liphoko said the call for a shutdown of the country on Friday could have “unexpected consequences” especially for the country’s fragile economy, business and communities.
Liphoko said the social media messages were sent to bring the image of South Africa into disrepute, to disturb the economy and to create the impression of disorder and fear in communities.
“Whilst the public has a democratic right to embark on protest action, government does not support acts of civil disobedience and the actions of a select few to infringe on the constitutional rights of the majority,” Liphoko said.
“When citizens take to the streets illegally, we often witness violence, destruction of property and lawlessness. These illegal protests do not possess the characteristics of strengthening democracy. Those found guilty of any form of violence will face the might of the law.”
Liphoko said government was of the view that South Africans could engage each other on differences through meaningful dialogue and through appropriate platforms.
– African News Agency