Protesters in South Africa are gathering for a demonstration against President Jacob Zuma, who turns 75 on Wednesday amid calls for his resignation because of scandals and his dismissal of a widely respected finance minister.
Zuma has come under mounting pressure after he reshuffled the cabinet on March 31, sacking or replacing 10 ministers and 10 deputy ministers, notably Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Zuma labelled the protests calling for him to step down last week as racist, and his detractors, the SACP, were reportedly sidelined.
While addressing crowds at the commemoration of the assassination of Chris Hani on Monday, Zuma said posters at last week's marches displayed beliefs he thought had died in 1994. It is clear that some of our white compatriots regard black people as being lesser human beings or sub-human, ' he said.
President Jacob Zuma's statement that last week's nationwide marches against his presidency showed the prevalence of racism indicated Zuma's obsession with race, the Congress of the People (Cope) said on Tuesday.
Maimane's spokesman Mabine Seabe said of Zuma's comments: "He can not argue based on policy and is trying to distract from the issues by using race as a scapegoat".
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said the march was not a numbers game but was meant to deliver a message. Rather, it was about South Africa and the mobilisation of the citizens.
Holomisa added that the recent two credit downgrades to junk status make South Africa an unsafe investment destination and the effects will be felt by all.
He alleged that some posters depicted black people as baboons.
In a birthday message, the ruling party commended Zuma for his record as an anti-apartheid leader and said he was at the forefront of government efforts "to ensure that we return the land to the people, eradicate racism and build social cohesion and unity". He said the Constitutional Court had clarified the role of MPs in its Nkandla judgment, in which it criticised parliament for not rapping Zuma over the knuckles and failing to implement the findings of the public protector.
The DA, the ultra-left Economic Freedom Fighters and other smaller parties announced a new protest march dubbed "National Day of Action" on Wednesday at the Union Buildings, the seat of government, aimed at drumming up support for a no-confidence motion against the president in parliament on April 18.
"We have created pathways for the emergence of black-owned business in various sectors of our economy".