COPE Applauds the Rainbow Nation March to Save South Africa

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Fitch's decision follows four days after S&P Global downgraded South Africa's credit rating to junk status, and was widely expected.

Tens of thousands of protesters marched in South Africa to demand that President Jacob Zuma resign after he fired the finance minister and reshuffled the cabinet.

Fitch says the reshuffle, in which widely respected Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was sacked, will further discourage companies from investing in South Africa.

It also said the unsettled political situation is likely to weaken "standards of governance and public finances".

The government, which has appealed for peace during the countrywide protests, tweeted that the laws in South Africa are also there to "protect the right of those who would not like to participate in protest action".

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Mmusi Maimane, leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party, was due to lead a march in downtown Johannesburg, where thousands of marchers wearing blue DA T-shirts gathered to start the march, with many bussed in from other areas.

A protestor makes her way to a demonstration against South African President Jacob Zuma, past a wall mural depicting the late Nelson Mandela in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, April 7, 2017.

On Thursday, Zuma delivered a keynote address at the third Presidential Local Government Summit held in Midrand. "The people of South Africa are sick and exhausted of you!" he told Zuma.

Protesters are now marching in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and other big metropolitan areas to push for the resignation of scandal-hit Mr Zuma.

Zuma, who came to power in 2009, has been battered by a series of corruption scandals during his time in office, while the country has suffered record unemployment, slowing growth and stubborn racial inequality.

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They however warned the ANC party that has pledged support for Zuma that "if they fail to hear the loud cries of South Africans to remove their "junk status" President, the people must unite in dictating their own destiny and punish" them "in the 2019 National and Provincial Elections".

Zuma's comments show "that he is out of touch with the South African public's very valid anger over his destructive leadership", the party said. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa described the move as "totally, totally unacceptable", and ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe said the ministerial shake-up made him "jittery and uncomfortable".

"On the 18th of April parliamentarians must act in the best interests of South Africa and vote Mr Zuma out to avert further damage to our economy".

But supporters of Mr Zuma have also turned out to defend the president.

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