A nationwide protest was held in South Africa on Friday (7 April) against President Jacob Zuma.

Thousands of protesters marched in several cities, including Cape Town, Durban, and the capital city of Pretoria, demanding the resignation of the scandal-hit leader, who they say has lost the moral authority to lead the nation.

The march on Friday, which was the result of abrupt dismissal of finance minister Pravin Gordhan in a midnight cabinet reshuffle on 30 March, also brought together political opponents, civil society leaders and common people.

"One person cannot hold the rest of the country hostage," Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said at a march in central Johannesburg.

"Jacob Zuma is not fit to lead South Africa," he added.

One protester, Lydia Potgieter, 69, told the Guardian that she was at the march to "support the efforts of all South Africans to be rid of a corrupt system that is eating away everything we have worked for over the last 20 years".

Several demonstrators with "Save South Africa" banners gathered in Pretoria near Union Buildings, the seat of the presidency. While, in Durban posters stating "Jacob Zuma must step down" were draped from buildings as part of the protest.

Demonstrators also painted their faces with messages of "downgrade Zuma, not South Africa", referring to the country's revised credit rating, which was given "junk" status by a ratings agency after Gordhan's dismissal.

Anti-Zuma protest
Demonstrators take part in a protest calling for the removal of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma in Cape Town, South Africa on 7 April, 2017 REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

Local media reports said that police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the protesters in one part of Johannesburg. The crowd then shifted outside a compound belonging to the wealthy Gupta family, which has ties to the president, in Johannesburg's affluent Saxonwold suburb.

Meanwhile, supporters of Zuma also came out to defend the president, who is due to leave office in 2019 when his second five-year term comes to an end. They said that the leader was amending things for radical socio-economic change.

One of his supporters said that it would be wrong to remove Zuma and added that the dismissal of the leader would be like "going back to the dark ages of apartheid".