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Protest and flames have erupted in Pretoria on Tuesday the 21st of June as protesters rage against the announcement that the candidate they did not support will be running for mayor of Tshwane under the ANC.

In accordance with SABC’s new policy, the protests are not to be aired. This is apparently to withhold publicity from the protesters so that they will grow up and cease and desist. What it is rather accomplishing is risking the lives of many who will be driving through veritable battlegrounds without being informed by the media, whose prime purpose as a state broadcaster is to protect its viewers through informing them of dangers to their security. It will do nothing to abate these protests – for the protesters cannot grow up. They are stuck in a narrative of violence solving problems and immature whining getting results.

“Protesters in Atteridgeville shouted “no Sputla‚ no vote”‚ and vowed to continue with their actions until the decision to replace current Tshwane mayor Sputla Ramokgopa with Thoko Didiza is reversed.” – Reports TimesLive.

Tshwane bus burnt in protest | Image: Steven Tau

But that’s not how they are acting. When a reasonable individual threatens to not give a party their vote, they just don’t vote for that party. In a democratic system, the loss of votes on mass gives cause to change their practice. But the protesters aren’t just withholding votes. They are burning buses, barricading roads, hurting people, looting and intimidating. Regardless of the merit of their demands (for which there are none; they should just vote for another party), the actions vilify them completely.

So why are they acting like ravenous zombies just because their candidate wasn’t chosen? Why not vote for another party? Or just hurt the ANC cleverly by withholding their vote on election day? Perhaps because they have been taught nothing else. A society wrought from rhetoric of violence, struggle and revolution believes only that violence will accomplish their goals.

For as much as we idolise Mandela’s peaceful transition, the “Struggle” is idolised even more. School children are led to believe that the Sowetan Uprising somehow toppled the Apartheid regime, that the MK was more than just a rabble of ill-trained guerrilla wannabes. The ANC came to power as a revolutionary party, but never undertook its revolution. It fails both sides of the dichotomy as it fails to understand either governance or revolution.

Now the people continue their campaign, through making South Africa ungovernable, just to fulfil their petty desires. This conflict over candidacy is petty. It’s founded in petty tribalism that has no place in a modern society! The ANC’s efforts to harness and strengthen tribalism for their own gains has done nothing but ferment even more conflict. Combined with the belief among many that they can only support the ANC, tribalism creates the battle lines for many internal conflicts within the ruling party.

There is a habit among many South Africans to forgive protesters in the name of “black pain” or because of their class. This is patronising and dangerous. We treat humans alike. And that means that we arrest bus burners, punish murderers and prevent vandalism and violence. Giving protesters a free pass legitimises this form of protest. It encourages more of it.

Like dealing with terrorism, which by definition this falls under, one must not cave in to their demands. One must treat them like the criminals they are. Arrest them, stop them from harming innocents, stop them from destroying the infrastructure that they will next year protest is damaged.

If South Africa is to stop the cycle of violence, it must assert that violent protests are never right and that every grievance has a valid means of solving. Ignorance of that means does not justify threatening to burn people alive and torching public transport.

Until such time as we end this rhetoric of dogmatic demands and violence to achieve it, South Africa will remain on the course of a failed state. The state, the media, academia and individuals need to stand up against these protesters and not give them any sort of satisfaction. Protest must be stricken from our national culture. It doesn’t solve anything but hurting innocents and causing even more problems.

Until then, South Africa will keep burning.

  • Altus Pienaar

    Sometimes violence is the only resolve inside a brutal capitalist system!
    Although I do not condone what is happening here I need to add that this is simply the symptoms of a flawed system of governance and the unwavering believe that capitalism can work.

    • Flawed governance and a toxic ideology that encourages entitlement where none is due. Capitalism is by no means the problem. Socialist rhetoric which lets people think they are allowed to destroy public and private property to get what they want.

      • Altus Pienaar

        I agree with most of what you are saying, and no, I do NOT condone the violence in this instance or even suggest that the use of violence can ever achieve a positive result. I can see how my statement can be read as such but I was merely stating the obvious from the perspective of the uneducated, impoverished masses. I myself do not agree with this statement as I believe that there is alternatives but it surely does not reside in our current “democratic” processes. It is written in our laws and policies but these laws are simply ignored or buried in the prospects of lengthy, expensive and uncertain litigation.
        As far as capitalism is concerned I have to disagree. I you read my earlier reply to Christiaan about the influence of the corporate world in creating the ANC oligarchy you will see how one can connect capitalism with the Pretoria unrest and how capitalism have a direct bearing on why SA and many other capitalist countries are in a similar state. You have to remember that like the SABC much of the international media have also conspired to coverup news on unrest globally. South Africa is not unique in this.
        I have to be clear though that in attacking capitalism I do not defend the ills of socialism.

    • Nicholas Babaya

      If capitalism doesn’t work, then I would challenge you to think of an example of a succesful country today which has not at all relied on a market economy.

      • Altus Pienaar

        It really depends on what you consider to be successful in a country, or a market economy for that matter?
        If we measure success against the effects of global warming and large scale pollution as well as the immeasurable externalization created by the current capitalist system, then countries like the USA and most EU countries will be rated as the least successful.
        Corporate capitalism is a totalitarian system where economic democracy is not allowed. It can mostly be compared to the quasi-communist regimes of Stalin and Mao Zedong.
        Furthermore it opens itself to corporate control of the government creating oligarchies like that of the USA and our own ANC government. This further erodes our political democracy to a single useless vote once every 4 years!

    • ChristiaanvHuyssteen

      What do people protesting about a decision made within a political party have to do with capitalism at all?

      • Altus Pienaar

        Good question; Our economic and political circumstances are suppose to be interdependent. When we allow corporate control of government it creates an oligarchy which becomes more dependent on corporate funding hence creating the situation where the corporate world dictates to government what the rules must be instead of the other way around.
        The oligarchy is not our government but the ANC political party that needs government funding to stay in power, in exchange the ANC sells our political democracy allowing corporate involvement to dictate policy and allow for corporate benefits while the rest of us must foot the bill to run the country.
        Allowing to much democracy will reverse this scenario so one finds that many aspects which should be an automatic part of democracy being flaunted by government like for instance our vote to a party instead of individual candidates. This allows the parties to appoint their own representatives which often does not originate from the communities where they govern and could not give a damn about these people.
        I have firsthand experience of this problem. People running the Middelburg EC municipality is from Queenstown and Cradock which holds the central control and people in Middelburg are getting fed up because they are merely being used as ‘n milking cow to benefit people who does not have a vested interest in this community.
        Capitalism is the unchecked and unregulated amassing of capital and resources. When you allow this much centralism it will always be used by the elite to control the rest of us for their own further benefits. Government is a vital tool used by these elites to control us.
        I hope this makes any sense.
        I am not a supporter of any form of system, I just believe that the problem goes much deeper than capitalism, socialism or communism. Our problem stems from CENTRALISM! and capitalism makes the most out of centralism.

  • Harald Sitta

    @altuspienaar:disqus Sometimes violence is the only resolve inside a brutal socialist regime!

  • Harald Sitta

    Rioters, arsonists and vandals and all that kind of assorted Riff-Raff should be treated within the framework of a state of emergency .As forced labor may be imposed acc to the constitution I plead for labor camps. A few months of hard labor will do wonders! Nicholas W-S is right: it is the rhetoric of “revolution’ and all that jazz that nourishes this violence. On the other side, you do not need much people to create mayhem…….

  • Harald Sitta

    SAB = BoBo journalism. What we do not report does not exist. That attitude should be examined from a psychopathology point of view ….