South Africa: Opponents Turn the Heat on President ZumaAfrican News, Latest News, Southern Africa Saturday, May 7th, 2016
JOHANNESBURG— It has been a tumultuous week for politics in South Africa as challenges to President Jacob Zuma and the ruling African National Congress party continue.
Political chaos, violence and destruction – this is how many have described this past week in South Africa.
In parliament, opposition parties kept their promise to defy President Jacob Zuma wherever they meet him. MPs from the Economic Freedom Fighters party disrupted the president’s budget speech Wednesday, demanding he leave office.
However, they were violently removed by security officers.
And the following day, all opposition parties except one boycotted a question and answer session with Zuma on the budget.
Zuma blamed the speaker of parliament, Baleka Mbete.
“I go around Africa and people ask me very embarrassing questions about this parliament. I think it will be very important that you seriously bring this house into some order,” said Zuma.
But tensions were also brewing outside parliament.
Residents of Vuwani in the northern part of the country burned 19 schools to the ground using homemade petrol bombs.
They were protesting the government’s decision to place their area under a new municipality, believed by some to be a ploy to increase the ruling ANC party’s votes in the coming local elections.
The government sent specialized law enforcement units to the area.
“You have to bring them so that you can be able to surround this area, bring this area under stability as quickly as possible, so that those who are responsible, we should be able to bring them to book as a matter of urgency ,” said David Mahlobo, the minister of state security.
The ANC has monopolized South African politics since the end of apartheid in 1994. But Zuma has been losing support within his own party amid a barrage of corruption scandals this year.
Opposition MP’s tried to impeach President Zuma in April after judges ruled he had violated the constitution. This week, the High Court ordered prosecutors to revisit nearly 800 corruption-related charges against him that were dropped several years ago.
The extent to which those court rulings have hurt the ANC will be revealed at the polls August 3.
Gideon Chitanga is a researcher at the Centre for Study of Democracy at the University of Johannesburg.
“It does not at all mark the end of the ANC, at least in the short term,” said Chitanga. “So I think it’s a critical indication that going forward the ANC has to reform if it has to retain its social base.”
Analysts warn of more instability to come but say it is unlikely that Zuma will step down.
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