South Africa ropes in army as protests reach pitch fever

by | Jul 13, 2021 | Politics | 0 comments

Nevanji Munyaradzi Chiondegwa

The 15months incarceration of former South African President Jacob Zuma over contempt of court charges has led to violent protests and looting in South Africa.
Today saw many parts of Johannesburg descending into chaos, leading to military deployment in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng Provinces.

The protests which were initially sporadic have taken a rather violent twist amid, burning and looting of shops, stoning of police vehicles, destruction of roads and burning of fuel tankers.

The protesters are running under the #FreeZuma hashtag on social media while banners and posters bearing the jailed former President are asking #WenzeniUZuma( What crime has Zuma Committed)?

In a statement released by Brigadier-General Mali Mgobozi, the Director Defence Corporate Communication, SANDF said, “The South African National Defence Force( SANDF) has commenced with pre-deployment processes and procedures in line with a request for assistance received from the National Joint Operations and Intelligence structure (NATJOINTS) to assist law enforcement agencies deployed in Gauteng and KwaZulu natal provinces respectively to quell the unrest that has gripped both Provinces in the last few days. The deployment will commence as soon as all deployment processes are in place.”

The statement further alleges that the duration of the deployment and the number of military personnel will be determined by the assessment of the situation on the ground by relevant law enforcement. SANDF further says that the objective of the deployment is to provide safety and a safe working environment for South African Police Services and other law enforcement agencies.

The deployment of soldiers has not been welcomed by many South Africans who feel the incarceration of Zuma is a political fight in the ruling ANC playing out in the public.

Economic Freedom Fighters frontman CIC Julius Sello Malema has issued a tweet saying, “No to soldiers on our street! Otherwise, we are joining. All fighters must be ready…. they won’t kill us all. We need a political solution to a political problem, not soldiers. #NoToSoldiers”

Meanwhile, the deployment of soldiers hardly a week after the ruling African National Congress through its Chairperson on International Relations Sub-Committee Lindiwe Zulu issued a sharp rebuke to eSwatini authorities following the deployment of soldiers in the mountainous kingdom has raised eyebrows across Africa. Circumstances leading to the deployment of soldiers in South Africa and eSwatini are so similar as to mirror each other.

It brings to the fore questions like, Is South Africa different from the rest of Africa?
Why are South African politicians keen to play big brother to the rest of the continent while they seem to resort to similar methods?
Who exactly runs South Africa seeing that their criticism of other African nations usually mirrors that of Western countries?