Anarchy in South Africa

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By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Up Front

Economic disparities and corruption make masses revolt. The rainbow nation is the most recent country where public protests have regained its course. 

A 105-year-old political party, ANC, once chaired by Nelson Mandela, is facing internal revolts. It could very well fracture the party organisation that has dominated the political scene in the country since end of apartheid in 1994.

President Zuma had decided to reshuffle twenty good performing ministers in his cabinet and had replaced them with personal loyalists without any party consultations. On the contrary, opposition members had drafted a no-confidence vote against him.

The dismissal of South African finance minister, Gordhan, who was widely acclaimed for his anti-corruption approach, has fueled a mass unrest. There has also been an allegation that Gordhan had been sacked because of President Zuma’s close friendship with Gupta business family, who have offered bribes and influenced state contracts and cabinet appointments.

The current reputation of the South African President is plummeting and becoming roguelike because of his anti-public and highly individualistic political decisions accumulated over the last eight years. The people perceive his leadership as an assault on the poor people. Frustrations and anger are running high.

There are risks of very high social instabilities coming out of recent political developments. Finance Minister Gordhan had already locked horns with the President in the past over management of the state treasury, in an effort to root out nepotism in state own companies. President also went in conflict with the finance minister for his ambitious plan of a deal with Russia for new nuclear power plants that were unaffordable.  

In an era of post-apartheid South Africa, the people have poured on the streets and are demanding the resignation of President Zuma over government corruption and a struggling economy.  

The value of South African Rand has already devalued around 7 percent. Two credit rating agencies have downgraded South African government debt to junk status. Food prices are being trigged by high inflation as well.

The Constitutional Court has also ruled against him in a dispute where he was alleged in disbursing millions of dollars for his private home construction. There have been other allegations against him for violating the constitution.

Although Zuma has defended his decision of reshuffling the cabinet, his critics believe that it is just a political gimmick and it wont bring any effectiveness and order ahead of national elections in two years.

Thousands of people belonging from all racial groups, from big cities and small towns, have poured on the streets in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria to counter his populist rhetoric.  

Coalitions of civil groups called Save South Africa Campaign (SaveSA), Outa, The DA, Mossel Bay Advertiser, Members of the Public and other groups have already contributed to the mass protests against the government. 

Trade unions, business executives and Communist party members have also joined in. South Africans living abroad in places such as London have already shown their solidarity with the people. Blogs and protests on social media are also going viral as well.

People hold blue placards in every street and alley. Many form human chains across the street, hold South African flags, dance in celebration, singing protest songs, while motorists chant slogans and raise their fists in the air.

Some of these people have never marched the streets in their entire lives, claim the stories of ground reporters. Nobel prize winner, Desmond Tutu, who is Zuma’s harshest critics, has also joined the protests.

Government is urging the people not to opt for a national shutdown. Rubber bullets have been fired and already many number of men and women have been injured. Pro-Zuma militants have also injured protestors. Although, the Constitution of the country guarantees the right to file petitions and peaceful assemblies to demonstrate protests, after liaising with the municipality office. 

In its history, ANC had been banned because it favoured armed struggle in the 1960s. Several of its members were arrested including Zuma where he was sentenced to ten years in prison.

The 1976 Soweto uprising beset the apartheid regime and Zuma had played a part in organising youth camps in neighboring countries. He also had a pivotal role in making Mandela the leader of the country.

Zuma may have to step down soon. He thinks it is the western colonial mentality and white monopoly capitalism that wants to oust him from power, but the beginning of a mass uprising shows a different picture.

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