Yesterday was South Africa’s Freedom day and while a few people partook in the commemorative celebrations scheduled to mark that day, some other South Africans found it more necessary to join in a Zuma Must Fall protest. The move speaks a lot about the mind of a good number of South Africans towards their president and his more recent misdeeds.
The Zuma must fall protesters ran into over 4000 Capetonians who showed up for the march that was organized by the Zuma Must Fall Campaign. It was scheduled beforehand to happen on freedom Day. Perhaps, the most telling and dangerous thing to note about yesterday’s march was the seeming normalcy with which the protesters organized.
The protests were scheduled to begin at 11:00am and even beforehand, organizers and volunteers worked from the early morning hours setting up equipment and finalizing last-minute tasks. The mood was light-hearted and jovial as the protesters engaged one another in friendly conversation while comparing posters and placards, waiting for the event to start.
It was also a very mixed up crowd, with protesters ranging from religious groups to political parties all decked in their official colors to show support for the #ZumaMustFall campaign. Although members of the police force were present, reaching even 20 police vehicles from various law enforcement agencies, such as the South African Police Service, Metropolitan Police and traffic services, they stated that they were not expecting problems or any disruptions and simply waited calmly for the procession to start.
At exactly 11:30, head organizer, Christelle Scheepers, addressed the crowd, giving a brief overview of the day’s plans and the crowd frequently chanted, “Zuma must fall!” accompanied by band performances. The procession kicked off at 12:00 and was led by police en route to Parliament. The marchers were greeted by 25 policemen guarding the parliament upon arrival, but even they simply watched over the proceedings and were not given any reasons to put their riot gear to use.
The organizers and speakers were then given a chance to speak when the crowd had settled down. They were rewarded with a receptive audience which frequently cheered as they made their points. At the end of the day, it could easily be determined that the march successfully made its point and enjoyed coverage by major media outlets, such as ENCA, Times Media and local radio stations, who interviewed the organizers, speakers and passersby.
South Africans practically schooled us all on the art of peaceful protests and one can only wonder if it can be attributed to the fact that they have insisted that ‘Zuma must fall’ for so long that it has become a familiar refrain. The question left then is how many more cries of Zuma must fall will it take to actually get Zuma to fall?