Over the past few days, rising to an extreme level this Monday, rioters have sprung up across KwaZulu-Natal and the rest of South Africa as a part of an SA Shutdown movement. The reason is ostensibly to protest the imprisonment of ex-president Jacob Zuma for contempt of court. Protesters are demanding that Zuma be freed, despite a pardon being illegal and completely counter to the values of a democratic, lawful society.
As is the South African way, this political issue wasted almost no time in escalating into wanton rioting and looting. Malls have been sacked and set alight. Already struggling businesses are being looted of everything. And there is random destruction and vandalism across KwaZulu-Natal and now spreading into other parts of the country.
This comes at a time when businesses are already struggling as a result of government regulations, lockdown, and over-taxation. On top of it all, businessowners have to deal with what can only described as a marauding mob destroying their livelihoods. This will further hurt society as these businesses inevitably shut down, eliminating much needed jobs and wealth generation.
This is what lockdown begets…
We have been in lockdown for well over a year. We are not a rich country. We didn’t have stores of resources and savings to weather a few weeks, let alone a year. These riots and mass looting are not really political. Politics sparked it, but the true reason is opportunism and desperation.
Lockdown has taken the South African pastimes of rioting and looting and pushed it to extremes, as the desperate poor seek to consume a bit of the pie that has been denied to them due to government incompetence and malice.
A large portion of these riots is hunger. Desperation as lockdown has stripped them of the means to earn a living for over a year.
But let us not forget that these sorts of protests and mass looting were commonplace long before lockdown. And that while these desperate people may be hungry, flatscreen TVs aren’t edible. Lockdown has exacerbated this protest to become one of the largest in modern South African history, but the values behind the looting and pillaging are unchanged.
There is a disease in this country. A disease that leads to looting of innocent businesses under the guise of defending a criminal. It is a disease that causes the mugger to murder their victim, when no resistance was given.
It is right to pity the hungry, but it is wrong to let them get away with theft and violence. And as long as we let looters get away with their crimes, it will keep happening. And good people will suffer for it.
Government can’t do a thing
The South African government is simultaneously bloated, over-funded, dictatorial, and stratifying, while being weak and impotent when it actually needs to act. The primary purpose of a government is to defend its law-abiding citizens from criminals and invaders. But while the rioters of the SA Shutdown pillage businesses and blockade major roads, the police and army cannot really stop them.
The South African Police Service has been defunded. The South African National Defence Force is so underfunded and oudated that they might as well stay home. Due to mismanagement and corruption, our law enforcement and military are not up to the task of dealing with the shutdown hordes.
Which leaves us to defend ourselves. If the rampant crime in this country hasn’t been enough, then the fact that communities are having to defend themselves from these rioters should be the final evidence needed to prove that we need firearms for self-defence and that the FCA Amendment Bill must be opposed in its entirety.
Seeing communities and private citizens stand together against a horde that looks straight out of the Walking Dead has been encouraging and shows the power of an armed citizenry in defending its own rights. We should be celebrating these heroes, defending their communities and holding the line against these criminals.
SA Shutdown exposes the fragility of South Africa
Jacob Zuma, a criminal by every reasonable account, has been sent to jail. In response, his supporters and opportunists have used this as an opportunity to block highways, burn businesses, loot, and steal. More than anything, this event has exposed the dangerous power that the African National Congress (ANC) has over this country.
The ANC is an overwhelming cult that is so widespread and sensitive that its internal crises result in South African streets being torn apart by rioters. In any mature society, the conflict between ANC factions would not leave an office.
But more than the fact that ANC is using the country as a battleground for its own issues, the SA Shutdown has exposed the fragility of South Africa and its democracy.
When a faction of a party doesn’t get what it wants, it riots and throws a tantrum. It is an overgrown, dangerous toddler. Unfortunately, a dangerous toddler committing acts of terrorism across the country to get what it wants.
And these rioters are terrorists. The definition of terrorism is the use of violence to meet political ends. Mass looting, vandalism, torching of buildings and explosions are violent. And if the goal is to free Zuma, then it is political. As such, they shouldn’t be negotiated with. They should be punished, as terrorists should be.
But will these terrorists get what they want? If they do, and Zuma is released, it will be the death of democracy and the rule of law in South Africa. The law must mean something if we are to be a civilisation. If rioters can get what they want through mass violence and theft, then that is a precedent to increase terrorism and crime.
But if the riots continue and Zuma is not released, how long can our society survive?
South Africa is not a rich or stable country. And it may be reaching its breaking point. If it hasn’t already.
Where to from here?
Zuma is a symptom of a disease that is far-reaching in South Africa. For now, he’s an excuse for plunder. But even without him, criminality and looting are the norm. This has to stop if there is a future for this country. The SA Shutdown needs to be dealt with decisively. Looting must be shown to be unacceptable.
But on top of that, lockdown must end. People need to be allowed to go out and earn again. And the government must step back and let industries employ people and produce wealth.
But I’m not sure the government is willing to give up the façade of control that it has. It would run completely counter to the ideology of the government.
I don’t think there’s a future for South Africa, especially if it keeps following this path. Already some small groups are calling for KwaZulu-Natal independence.
At this point, I don’t think independence or balkanisation can even be considered as beneficial or not. I do believe that the break-up of South Africa is inevitable. This country does not have the will or institutions to stay together.
I do believe there is a future in the independence of parts of South Africa.
If there is to be a future in a united SA, it needs to be achieved decisively and radically. We must look at the developmental states that worked and adapt their teachings. We must embrace a free market and take law enforcement and the rule of law seriously.
I am not confident the government can do this. So, for now we’re on our own. It is up to South Africans, not its government, to save South Africa.