PROTESTS CONTINUE TO CAUSE MAYHEM IN MANY PARTS OF SA
Written by: Sihle Makhowana
South Africa can easily be dubbed as the protest capital or the state of social unrest judging from the amount of protest action that transpires on a yearly basis.
Black South Africans attained their freedom in 1994 by destabilising the apartheid government with social unrest that saw historic marches such as June 16 come to life. It seems the saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ applies to this beautiful rainbow nation, with the youth adopting the very same ways that young people of the pre democratic South Africa used to voice their grievances to the then government.
Many people have come out to defend the so-called South African ‘culture’ of protests with some saying it is the only way they know how to be heard. However, Professor Anthony Collins from the Durban University of Technology who specialises in studies of crime and violence, begs to differ with this theory.
Professor Collins says that South Africa is a country with one of the best constitutions in the world and a Bill of Rights that promotes equality for all, its citizens should find better civil avenues to advocate their dissatisfaction with the government.
“It’s been 22 years since South Africa was declared a democratic country, and to have violent protests which are largely driven by violence defeats the purpose of Section 17 of the constitution, which permits every South African citizen to engage in a peaceful protest,” said Collins.
“People organise many protests during the election season because this is when the government is most vulnerable. They want votes so they have no choice but to listen to people, but the real question is at what expense. So much of the public infrastructure is severely damaged during these protests and the very same people who damage property are the ones who will once again gather together and protest for services they torched down,” added Collins.
South Africa has one of the best Constitutions in the world and Chapter 2, section 17 of the constitution clearly states that every South African has a legal right that permits them to engage in a peaceful protest but nowhere in the constitution does this right promote the use of violence.
It seems the use of violence in protests has become the norm in South Africa. Earlier this year in Vuwani, in the Limpopo province, protesters torched down at least 17 schools which resulted to the closure of business and schools in the surrounding areas of Vuwani.
Months leading up to this year’s local government elections have turned immensely violent with many poor communities using this opportunity to be heard.
Speaking to Radio 702, Mary De Haas, an Independent Researcher and Violence Monitor warned that we are more likely to see repeat incidents of political violence in KwaZulu Natal in the run-up to the elections and possibly other contested regions. She discussed what fuels political violence.
“Historically KZN has been a violent province, although it has been getting better. In the past there was a great deal of inter-party killings. This has changed to intra-party violence, and involves different factions,” said De Haas.
Recent reports have seen an increase in the killing of some potential candidates for ward the counsellor position. Additionally, the squabbles that many have witnessed in our parliarment have not made things easier. As it stands, one can only hope that leaders themselves will lead by the examples of resolving matters verbally without succumbing to any violence.
*Picture by: Samkelisiwe Majola