by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – ALREADY searing under the burden of load shedding, economic smash-up and discontent among the populace, South Africa is projected to come to a standstill next Monday when the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) stages a “national shutdown.”
Political temperatures are rising ahead of the protests which the country’s third largest opposition is to stage to demonstrate against these crises and ultimately call for the resignation of President Cyril Ramaphosa, the embattled leader who is implicated in corruption.
Some fellow opposition parties are wary of the impact of the protest on the economy that is already battling from the scourge of load shedding and still searing from the most severe outbreak of the COVID-19.
There are also fears of the protest turning violent in a country where high youth unemployment is a ticking time bomb.
In 2018, over 300 people died as anarchy fled after the arrest of former President, Jacob Zuma, for contempt of court during his graft ordeals.
This week, the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), launched legal action against the shutdown. It is mobilizing society against the alleged intimidation and threats of violence by the EFF across the country.
“The DA takes the EFF’s threats seriously,” said John Steenhuisen, DA leader.
“We will not sit back and allow the EFF to threaten businesses, livelihoods and lives,” Steenhuisen said.
Dion George, DA Shadow Minister of Finance, projected that a one-day shutdown of the South African economy would cost over R1,2 billion in generated wealth.
He noted South Africa is already greylisted because of a lack of effort by the security cluster to take effective steps against financial criminals.
“Another security failure now will send a strong signal that SA is unreliable and unstable,” George said.
The security cluster was criticized for its slow response to the 2021 anarchy that saw businesses looted and infrastructure destroyed.
“The EFF’s mere call for a national shutdown has the potential to send shockwaves through South Africa’s investment landscape,” George said.
EFF, led by Julius Malema, has hit out at the DA over its legal action.
“The DA’s anti-democratic publicity stunt, is frivolous, misguided and is a confirmation that the DA still seeks to salvage the Cyril Ramaphosa Presidency as a proxy of its neo-liberal policy outlook,” EFF stated.
EFF, formed by expelled youth members of Ramaphosa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) in 2013, holds the government accountable for corruption and the economic problems, which have been exacerbated by load shedding.
Ramaphosa has his own personal woes and resisted calls to resign over alleged corruption.
This after it emerged last June that a total of US$4 million illegally kept was stolen in the president’s Phala Phala game farm in Limpopo in 2020.
“The DA cannot and will not stop the overwhelming frustration and pain of our people in defence of Cyril Ramaphosa, and these frustrations will be felt on our streets on the 20th of March 2023,” EFF insisted.
Malema, speaking from the party headquarters in Johannesburg on Wednesday, rejected claims EFF was planning violence.
The EFF-led shutdown has received support from such influential organizations as the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), the United Democratic Movement (UDM), and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU).
Dudu Zuma-Sambundla, daughter of former president, Zuma, has also endorsed the protest action.
She was accused as a ring-leader in the 2021 protests.
Zuma-Sambundla said the shutdown would be a significant and historic day for millions who had suffered under Ramaphosa’s administration in the last six years.
She had decided to put aside her differences with EFF.
“I am choosing to exercise political maturity and tolerance,” Zuma-Sambundla said.
– CAJ News