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South Africa Braces for National Protest Against President Zuma

Crowds of South Africans are expected to take to the streets on Friday in national demonstrations against President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma, now in his second term, recently reshuffled his Cabinet, replacing finance minister Pravin Gordhan with the more loyal, but less experienced, Malusi Gigaba.

Partly in response, at least one major ratings agency has downgraded South Africa’s credit rating to “junk,” and the South African rand took a beating in currency markets.

The protests are also fueled by long-running concerns over corruption in the Zuma administration, following the use of state funds to expand the president’s private homestead. Zuma has also been criticized for the deference he has shown to the Gupta family, a wealthy Indian-South African family that is thought to be influential in government decisions. A controversial Russian foray into nuclear power in South Africa has also been the target of media scrutiny and criticism.

The opposition parties hope to pass a motion of no confidence in Parliament, but they would need defections from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to succeed. For the moment, Zuma has maintained party unity.

Meanwhile, the leading opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), which controls several major municipalities and the Western Cape province, faces divisions over Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s partial defense of colonialism on Twitter.

Analysts do not expect Zuma to step down, despite public and media pressure. Nevertheless, the amount of opposition he faces is unprecedented, with the country’s religious leaders backing Friday’s demonstrations.

Zuma was elected in 2009 on a wave of populist enthusiasm for redistributionist policies.

South Africa’s economic growth has generally underperformed other emerging markets, leaving millions unemployed despite the country’s post-apartheid progress.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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