Shutdown showdown

By Zukile Majova
Political Editor

There is no chance in hell that the country will be plunged into the kind of chaos that characterised the July unrests of 2021 – so says the government.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the right to protest is not absolute and anarchy will not be tolerated.

“Monday is a long weekend. Many of our people will probably be travelling to their homes and we expect that there will be full order and harmony in our country,” he said.

“But security forces stand ready to defend the people of South Africa.”

He was responding to calls by EFF leader Julius Malema that his supporters and those who sympathise with their cause should bring the country to a standstill on Monday, 20 March.

Police Minister Bheki Cele has assured the country that there will be no anarchy in the country on Monday.

Defence Minister Thandi Modise said the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will be on standby with 73,000 personnel.

Police and the army have been activated to be ready to face groups planning to disrupt the flow of traffic, national key points like airports, harbours and the various seats of government as part of the so-called national shutdown.

“We want to assure everyone in the country that the 20th of March will be a normal business day. We want to reiterate to our international community that contrary to the pronouncements by those advocating for any disruption, all ports of entry – land, sea and air – will be operational,” said Cele.

On Wednesday Malema called on the more than one million members of the EFF to get ready to stage protests at strategic points around the country.

He said they will not be marching to a specific destination but there will be protests in every town around the country.

Their protests, he said, would bring important harbours like Richards Bay Harbour which is home to the Richards Bay Coal Terminal, national key points including OR Tambo International Airports and various seats of government to a halt.

Malema called on his “foot soldiers” to respond in kind to any violent confrontations designed to undermine their plan to bring the country to a standstill.

“Fighters defend yourselves. Anyone who is trigger happy, show them times two what you can do,” he said.

The EFF received over 2.4 million votes in the 2021 municipal elections and are estimated to command a total following of over three million supporters, most of them young black people. However, they have only 10% of seats in Parliament.

The National Taxi Association and the National Taxi Alliance have rejected Malema’s stunt saying their members were hit hard by the Covid-19 lockdown with some operators losing their vehicles and their incomes.

A complete shutdown would cost the R60 billion industry over R150 million a day.

National Taxi Council spokesperson Theo Malele said a long weekend is often a busy time for the industry with workers leaving the main economic hubs – Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town – to visit their families in the rural provinces of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape.

Pictured above: Bheki Cele and Julius Malema


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