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SOUTH AFRICA: President Zuma Gets Unusual 75th Birthday Gift

By Published April 13, 2017

Thousands of South Africans staged a protest against President Jacob Zuma on his 75th birthday, they called for his resignation because of scandals and his dismissal of a widely respected finance minister.

The president and his wife Thobeka Madiba-Zuma meanwhile, arrived in Kliptown, Soweto greeted by hundreds of African National Congress (ANC) supporters who gathered at the Walter Sisulu Square, to express their support for him.

The protest in the capital, Pretoria - which followed nationwide protests on Friday, comes amid sharp criticism of Mr Zuma within the ruling African National Congress party even as the president still commands the support of powerful ANC factions.

President Zuma, who is in his second five-year term after becoming president in 2009, has become a flashpoint for concerns about government corruption and mismanagement in one of Africa's most powerful economies.

"Take a permanent holiday" said one protest sign mockingly wishing a happy birthday to Mr Zuma.

Some demonstrators carried a mock coffin covered with a South African flag, crowds gathered at a central square and marched peacefully to the Union Buildings, which house Mr Zuma's offices.

Addressing supporters in Soweto, Zuma said his age was only a number because he was still going strong. He said it had been a good year for him and he was thankful.

He had seen people come and go “in my time serving the ANC, seen some turn into cowards and some turn against what they had been fighting for”.

Zuma said he had also seen a lot of backstabbing in the ANC and it would take a lot to hurt him, including being called names.

Last month, President Zuma fired Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who coincidentally turned 68 on Wednesday, in a Cabinet reshuffle.

Zuma spent 10 years in the same Robben Island prison where Nelson Mandela was held, but his anti-apartheid record has been overshadowed by scandals, including the spending of millions of dollars in state funds on his private home.

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