South Africa's left-wing opposition launched strikes and rallies under heavy security on Monday, March 20, 2023, in a bid to force out President Cyril Ramaphosa over his handling of the country's economy and crippling energy crisis.
Preparing to march to the Union Buildings, where police and soldiers were on patrol, the protesters gathered in a square in the nation's capital Pretoria.
According to a video in the local media, thousands of people also gathered in other parts of the nation.
Police report that 87 demonstrators were detained overnight for crimes involving violence.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the third-largest party in the nation, has called for a "national shutdown" of protests and walkouts, raising concerns that the unrest that took a deadly turn two years ago will happen again.
A large white fabric poster with the words "Ramaphosa must go" written in red paint was nailed to a fence in Pretoria's Church Square.
"This government is failing," declared Carl Niehaus, a former ANC official who attended the rally with the primarily EFF supporters.
"We can no longer stand by as the Ramaphosa administration continues to harm our country. Now they must leave," he told AFP.
One of the protesters urging the overthrow of the ANC government was trade unionist Trevor Shaku.
The entire African National Congress in Congress and government must be included in the decision to call for Ramaphosa's resignation, he argued, as it has manifestly mismanaged the nation.
According to the authorities, nearly 3,500 troops were on high alert to help the police maintain security.
In Johannesburg, Police Minister Bheki Cele told reporters, "We hope that those who will be marching, as long as they will be doing so peacefully, we have no reason to interfere with them.
He continued by saying that private security firms were also assisting the police.
The majority of businesses in the nation protectively lowered their shutters, and one auto dealership in Pretoria had taken every vehicle out of its display.
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