South African president accuses protesters of racism

FILE President Jacob Zuma laying wreaths at the grave site of the late Chris Hani after he declared it a heritage site

"The marches that took place last week demonstrated that racism is real and exists in our country", Zuma said at the memorial in Boksburg, near Johannesburg.

Besides other civic organisations, the National Day of Action is being organised by the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), the African Independent Congress (AIC), the African People's Convention (APC), Agang SA, the Congress of the People (COPE), the Democratic Alliance (DA), the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the United Democratic Movement (UDM). It is clear that some of our white compatriots regard black people as being lesser human beings or sub-human, ' he said.

But Zuma will be at Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown attending his 75th birthday rally, organised by the ANC.

Thousands of South Africans marched in parts of the country to press their demand for the resignation of Zuma last Friday.

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He appeared unconcerned by the growing calls for his removal and made no mention of today's march in Pretoria.

Save-SA has accused Zuma of using the race card out of desperation. He said the racism was displayed on placards during the marches.

"It's an effective spin strategy that's very shrewd ... because it plays on historical racial tensions in South Africa". Again, this time around, he has not only waved away calls by veterans of the liberation struggle, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) unions and South Africa's Communist party (a historical ally of the ANC) for him to demit office, but seemed likely to survive a confidence vote in parliament later this month.

For now, however, it looks as if Zuma may succeed in entrenching his sleaze-tinged power structure in what was once the party of Nelson Mandela. Markets reacted quickly: South Africa's currency plummeted, and the ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the government's bonds to junk status.

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He alleged that some posters depicted black people as baboons.

Black people make up 80 percent of the population, yet the lion's share of the economy in terms of ownership of land and companies remains in the hands of white people, who make up about 8 percent of the population.

In an unprecedented show of unity, all but two opposition parties will march on the Union Buildings on Wednesday calling for President Jacob Zuma to be recalled.

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