President Jacob Zuma’s birthday wish is a better life for all‚ he said on Wednesday.
The president celebrates his 75th birthday on Wednesday‚ which will be marked by a huge ANC bash in Kliptown‚ Soweto.
But‚ on the other side of the province‚ the mood will be somewhat different. Thousands of South Africans will be marching to the seat of government at the Union Buildings in Pretoria to call on the president to step down.
Zuma has seemed nonplussed by the widespread calls for his resignation‚ a campaign driven by several opposition parties and civic organisations.
Tens of thousands of protesters across the country took part in anti-Zuma marches last Friday and a similar turnout is expected on Wednesday.
The president has suggested that the protests are driven by racism‚ pointing to racist placards displayed during Friday’s protests.
Zuma again highlighted the need to tackle racist attitudes in a statement released on Wednesday.
“I would like to see us making more progress in fighting poverty and inequality. We need to make progress in black economic empowerment to promote true economic freedom‚” he said in a statement.
“I also wish to see us winning the battle against racism in our country. We remain committed to building a non-racial society and will continue to work hard to unite our people against racism and all its manifestations.
“My wish is also to see more citizens working with the police and government to rid our communities of crime and building safer communities.”
The statement said Zuma would be busy with his normal programme in the morning‚ before heading off to his birthday do in Soweto.
The president was also preparing for a special cabinet meeting to address the economy‚ which has been hit by two credit ratings downgrades after the recent cabinet reshuffle.