SOUTH AFRICAN provinces endured a week of violence, looting, anarchy, and deaths after the arrest of the former President, Jacob Zuma, on Wednesday of last week. The Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, has called for calm.
“I wish to call further for calm as our democracy is tested. It is the most trying Madiba Day since democracy,” the Archbishop said on Wednesday, referring to the annual celebration of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on 18 July.
On Sunday, South Africa’s elder statesman, 92-year-old Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the former leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, released a statement which said: “Our beloved country is aflame. We need to act.”
Chief Buthelezi, a life-long Anglican, said that he had been in contact with the President, Cyril Ramaphosa, urging him to take a firm stand. On Monday evening, the President resisted requests to call a state of emergency, but sent in the South African National Defence Force to help to restore order.
“As we witness a country aflame with violent protests, looting, and destruction, it is clear that South Africa is being destroyed,” Chief Buthelezi said. “This has become far bigger than politics. It has enveloped rogue and criminal elements, as well as an army of desperadoes who have nothing to lose in the face of poverty and unemployment. The state is being held to ransom as citizens create anarchy.”
Dr Makgoba said in an earlier statement this week: “The economic ordering of society and the question of how we develop our material resources is directly relevant to the violence we have seen in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and Mpumalanga in the last few days; for much deeper forces than anger over the jailing of Mr Zuma are at work in the mayhem we are seeing. As in many other countries, the market economy is failing to address poverty, inequality and unemployment.”
The Archbishop, who is also Acting Bishop of Natal until the installation of the Bishop-elect, continued: “But violence and looting are not the way to solve the problem, and deploying the Defence Force to support the police can only be a stop-gap measure.”
The former Public Protector of South Africa, Professor Thuli Madonsela, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday: “Our country is not going through spontaneous chaos. The chaos and looting we have is not the outcome of a trigger. It’s organised by transactional leaders to intimidate our judicial system to allow impunity.”
In 2014, she found that Mr Zuma, who was then in office, had benefited from public spending on his Nkandla homestead.
The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation has called for restraint from all sides: “We have watched in horror as the violence has led to several deaths and to the destruction and looting of private property. We will always defend the right to peaceful protest, but we will never condone violence, destruction, or looting in the name of any cause.”