eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede has retracted her alleged comments that metro law-enforcement agencies would be out to arrest those who march against President Jacob Zuma in Durban on Friday because that would be treason.
This comes after a Tweet by SABC news quoted Gumede as saying that any protest action against Zuma amounted to treason.
Gumede’s spokesperson, Mthunzi Gumede, reportedly said the Mayor’s comments were taken out of context.
A national shutdown is planned to take place on Friday as various opposition parties and civil right organisations mobilise support against Zuma’s recent Cabinet reshuffle.
Pravin Gordhan was fired as finance minister and Mcebisi Jonas as his deputy, together with several other ministers and deputy ministers who were also replaced.
In a statement, eThekwini said the City had granted permission for the “People’s March” that would commence at the Circus site near Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World.
“We are aware of and have granted permission for two marches to take place in the City tomorrow. There will also be an ANC Youth League march which will take place in the City Centre. Permission has also been grated for this march,” eThekwini said.
“In order to ensure the safety of residents and those taking part in the march, Metro Police officers will be visible along the marches. Our officers will also be on high alert for any other illegal marches or volatile situations that might arise.”
eThekwini said Gumede acknowledged that people were free to exercise their constitutional rights by voicing their concerns but cautioned those taking part in the marches against injuring others and vandalising infrastructure.
“Mayor Zandile Gumede pleads with residents to march peacefully and in a legally permissible manner without damaging property. People can take part in marches, however this may not be done in a way that compromises the rights of others,” eThekwini said.
“The protesters must refrain from injuring law-abiding citizens or blockading roads, thus preventing others from going to school and work. Mayor Zandile Gumede said no one will be arrested or intimidated for taking part in the march.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) had already written to Gumede giving her until Thursday morning to publicly retract her alleged threats to arrest participants in the “People’s March”.
“Gumede’s promise to arrest anyone who marches tomorrow undermines the fundamental right in our constitution to peacefully protest,” DA KwaZulu-Natal leader, Zwakele Mncwango, said.
“The DA is undeterred and our legally approved protest will continue. We encourage each and every South African who wants to see our country set on the right path, starting with the democratic removal of Jacob Zuma, to join the protest action on Friday.”