Zuma says ‘not worried’ about protests, calls to step down

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Embattled President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday said he had no idea why hundreds of thousands of South Africans had been calling for his resignation in recent weeks.

“I am not worried about the political situation in South Africa. I haven’t heard that people are unhappy,” Zuma said in Durban.

Zuma made the comments shortly before the opening of the World Economic Forum on Africa, which is taking place in the coastal city from May 3-5.

South Africans have been demonstrating against Zuma in cities across the country since late March, calling on him to resign over corruption scandals and his decision to sack finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

The dismissal of Gordhan caused the rand to plunge and prompted two ratings agencies to downgrade South Africa.

Zuma said he didn’t know why people were protesting. “I don’t know what makes people so excited,” the president said.

“Demonstrations are always there,” Zuma said, adding that he regarded the protests as a sign of democracy “maturing” in South Africa.

On Monday, Zuma had to leave a May Day rally after he was booed off the stage by members of the country’s main trade union confederation in the central city of Bloemfontein.

His speech had to be cancelled. (dpa/NAN)