Police clash with protesters calling for president's resignation

South African opposition, rights groups march against Zuma

South Africa's black president on Monday said many white demonstrators calling for his resignation are racist, in remarks that critics are likely to view as an effort to undercut growing concerns about his leadership.

"If South Africa is downgraded by Fitch then we could be facing a sub-investment grade rating on both our local and foreign currency debt", Gordon Kerr, a fixed-income trader at FirstRand Ltd., said before the announcement.

Vavi said as long as Zuma and his friends and family from the ANC and its alliance partners are in charge, South Africa will never be able to solve unemployment. Organizers went to court and obtained a ruling to permit the march, but the national police commissioner held a televised news conference on Thursday night and insisted again that the protest was illegal, despite the court ruling. Cape Town has always been controlled by the DA.

The government claimed that fewer than sixty thousand stepped out to protest across the country today but many protestors spoke of a sense of solidarity in a time when the governance of South Africa reached a critical moment.

Parliament will vote on a motion of no confidence in the president on April 18, though he has easily survived previous such votes against him.

President Zuma addressed the annual Chris Hani Wreath Laying Ceremony, which is aimed at honoring and celebrating the life and legacy of one of the country's most respected struggle stalwarts, Thembisile Chris Hani, in Elspark, Boksburg. "We also pay tribute to those who organised their own protests‚ in cities and towns such as we Cradock‚ Prince Albert‚ King William's Town and Bloemfontein".

"It's a very determined atmosphere", says Steve Kromberg, a Social Media Trainer marching in Cape Town.

In a bid to keep the pressure on the ANC to recall Mr Zuma from office, the organisers of Friday's protests have announced that another day of nationwide mass action will take place next Wednesday.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane led a march to Mary Fitzgerald Square, Johannesburg, while others gathered on roads across the country, displaying banners and signs calling for the president's resignation.

This is widely seen as the result of President Jacob Zuma's decision to fire former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas as part of a widespread cabinet reshuffle on March 31.

He is due to step down as head of the ANC in December, ahead of the 2019 general election. According to Whip Mthembu, the ANC's chief, the ruling party will side with Jacob Zuma. The president also got the backing of a committee in parliament, who could have otherwise had him sacked.

Many took to Twitter asking Zuma to step aside using the hashtag #ZumaMustFall.

They were demanding the release of a report by the public protector, a constitutionally mandated anti-graft official, looking into allegations that Zuma was being influenced by the Guptas, three brothers who the president says are his friends.

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