/ 2 November 2016

EFF marches to Union Buildings, demanding President Zuma’s resignation

The Economic Freedom Fighters marched from Church Square in Pretoria and went on to shut down every busy street.
The Economic Freedom Fighters marched from Church Square in Pretoria and went on to shut down every busy street.

The EFF promised they would shut down Tshwane with a mass march to demand that President Zuma steps down. On Wednesday, the streets of Tshwane were covered in red, but throughout the day bursts of violence erupted and police fired rubber bullets when the EFF made their way to the Union Buildings. 

EFF leader Julius Malema addressed thousands of supporters as they stood in Church Square in Tshwane. Malema claimed victory for the release of the public protector’s state capture report after Zuma withdrew his application to interdict the report and the judge ruled the report should be released by 5pm on Wednesday.

“We are here to report that everything the EFF wanted, the courts granted,” Malema said as the crowd cheered.

Since morning, some people donning the EFF’s signature red T-shirts had looted and burned rubble. Others wearing normal clothing also participated. The EFF claims that these people had been sent by the ANC to delegitimise their protest, although the party could provide no evidence to support the claim.

Despite the victory of helping to release the state capture report (the EFF, Democratic Alliance, United Democratic Movement and Congress of the People had all filed applications to intervene in the court matter), Malema announced that the EFF would march to Union Buildings to demand that Zuma must resign.

Hundreds of EFF supporters arrived at the Union Buildings before the EFF leader, however, where they found that public order police had shut the entrances to the Union Buildings grounds.

“We want Zuma to resign now,” protesters yelled at the police.

Another protester said angrily” “I am tired of these police.”

Some then began throwing rocks over the gates in front of the park below the Union Buildings. The police fired stun grenades, rubber bullets and released a water cannon to disperse the crowd.

Members of the EFF began playing loud music to distract protesters and ease the tension, but some continued to throw rocks, while most danced.

The EFF leadership including Malema, Godrich Gardee, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Floyd Shivambu arrived as the music played. Ndlozi went inside the gates to negotiate with police shortly after the leaders made their way to the crowd. 

Malema reprimanded protesters who threw stones at the police, calling them “fools”.

“You are making it very difficult for us to talk to the police. The police have co-operated with us the whole night, the whole day,” Malema said.

“Police are not our enemy. Our enemy is Jacob Zuma. Don’t throw stones at the police,” he said.

The EFF leader ended his speech by saying that if the police don’t open the gates to the Union Buildings, then the EFF would remain in the streets.

“If they want to clean the streets, they must open Union Buildings,” Malema said.