Police are struggling to subdue violent protests that have erupted around South Africa’s capital city of Pretoria, reports BBC News. The protests are as a result of the ruling African National Congress party’s choice of candidate for mayor of the city in the upcoming elections on August 3. Similar protests were experienced in Durban, home province of the country’s president, Jacob Zuma, earlier this month, demonstrating increasing factionalism within the party leading up to a vote in which the ANC could lose considerable support in the major cities.
Vehicles were torched, roads were barricaded with rocks and burning tyres, all this because residents believe a mayoral candidate was imposed on them by the national party leadership. The party is reeling under “factionalism, corruption and leadership without credibility,” said political analyst and author Prince Mashele. A number of buses were set ablaze, and a portion of the country’s main highway, the N1, was closed off due to protesters hurling stones at cars. Police were unwilling to offer information regarding damages or casualties due to the unrest, but did say they were investigating one count of murder and a number of charges relating to malicious damage to property and intimidation. Several deaths attributed to factionalism within the ANC have been reported from around the country in the run-up to the elections.
The government says it condemns in the strongest terms the outbreak of violence and destruction of property. It has appealed for calm and the peaceful resolution of differences. Acting Director General of Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), Donald Liphoko, said, “There can be no issue which cannot be resolved through democratic processes and dialogue. Members of the public are encouraged to use channels available to raise their concerns.” He said violence, damage to property, and infringing on others’ rights and free movement will not be tolerated by law enforcement agencies. Perpetrators will face the full might of the law. “Whilst all South Africans have the constitutional right to protest, government reiterates its condemnation of any form of violence and intimidation during protests and encourages continued dialogue to resolve differences.”
It would seem that the chaos at hand is a result of factionalism that has, for decades, inundated the ANC. The party has made unrealistic promises to its supporters, and in effect, only benefited certain members of the party, largely ignoring what it originally stood for, and succumbing to corruption of the highest order. It’s leaders grabbing all they can regardless of the people, and its followers subscribing to the promise of the party, being, “it’s our time to eat,” regardless of the consequences.
It is now that followers of the party who were sucked up by the promises made, who never bothered to ask how they planned to deliver, are rebelling, demanding what was promised. It’s not so much about who the mayoral candidate is, as about the dissatisfaction of not receiving what was promised. Unqualified people are expecting unrealistic compensation for the service they provide and are rightfully blaming the government for their low income, government, after all, promised them that much more.
South Africa has now been free of “apartheid” for a full generation. That is no longer an excuse, and cannot be offered as such. It is a country rich in minerals and agriculture, and needs to set the example for a continent in which the world has lost faith.
[Photo by AP Images]