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Cape municipalities, provincial government sweat EFF shutdown, vow ‘business as usual’

EFF leader Julius Malema said his organisation would bring South Africa to a standstill with their planned national shutdown on March 20 despite opposition to their action from some quarters. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

EFF leader Julius Malema said his organisation would bring South Africa to a standstill with their planned national shutdown on March 20 despite opposition to their action from some quarters. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 14, 2023


Cape Town - The Western Cape government and City of Cape Town are taking a stand against the EFF’s planned shutdown on March 20.

The party decided on a national shutdown as a response to several failures by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration.

In a recent statement, EFF leader Julius Malema said: “Now is the time to take action. The streets are calling. We all have to occupy all the streets of South Africa. Unemployment can’t be tolerated anymore. If you aren’t working, it’s your day to show that you’re concerned. If you don’t have electricity because of Eskom, stand up and show the Eskom government that you’re tired.”

EFF spokesperson Sinawo Tambo hadn’t responded to requests for comment at the time of writing.

Stellenbosch Municipality condemned “deliberate threats of violence, looting and intimidation”. It vowed that service delivery would continue uninterrupted.

Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis issued a statement via video on Friday, saying: “Don’t be stupid, don’t organise a national shutdown and don’t try that nonsense in Cape Town. Here we’re building for the future.

“We’re moving forward, we’re getting people into work and out of poverty. We don’t have time for a national shutdown and we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen here.”

In a bid to prevent the shutdown, Hill-Lewis said the City is filing an application for an interdict against any attempts to incite or participate in looting, vandalism, and disruption as part of the EFF’s ‘national shutdown’ protest planned for Monday, 20 March.

He said the City intends to be fully open for business in all respects on Monday.

The City's interdict application in the Western Cape High Court aims to ensure the organisers and participants stay within the confines of the law and permit them to march to the National Parliament Buildings to hand over a memorandum.

The interdict application also serves as firm notice that the City will not hesitate to prosecute a civil claim against the EFF should any of its public infrastructure be damaged.

“Cape Town will be open for business as usual, and authorities are well prepared and equipped to deal with what is likely to be only limited isolated attempts at disruption by the EFF. Would-be disruptors will be arrested and we are also seeking a precautionary interdict against looting, vandalism or disruptions,” Hill-Lewis said.

The mayor said while the City fully recognises the right to democratic protest, this does not allow for thuggery aimed at terrorising members of the public.

“We will ensure that Capetonians are able to go about their daily business on Monday. Should any damage to public infrastructure occur on Monday, the City will not hesitate to lay a civil claim against the EFF given their public threats made to date.

“We are focused on growing the economy and getting more people into work so they can earn a living and thrive: there will be no national shutdown in Cape Town,” said Hill-Lewis.

Premier Alan Winde said he was worried about the “threats of violence, looting of businesses, intimidation, and disruption of services”.

“The EFF has the constitutional right to protest, but it is intolerable for them to threaten the constitutional rights of other citizens, especially where essential services such as individual safety, health care and education are concerned. This protest, as misguided as it is, should only proceed within the law.”

He said videos of Malema circulating on social media are “tantamount to threats of unrest and incitement of violence. I will not stand for this”.

“We as the Western Cape government are taking this matter very seriously and will not allow this culture of fear being created by the EFF to take hold,” Winde said.

He cited an interdict the Western Cape departments of Health and Social Development obtained at the Western Cape High Court against National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union members who had been “threatening essential services in our province”, and said the province won’t hesitate to act in a similar manner in the EFF’s national shutdown.

“I intend meeting with Western Cape Police Oversight and Community Safety Minister Reagen Allen and the provincial commissioner of the SAPS this week to discuss the SAPS’ plan of action to protect the lives and livelihoods of our citizens.”

Winde said the province’s economy shows signs of recovery while being gripped by the energy crisis. He said the focus should be on rebuilding the economy.

“We grow our economic freedom by opening up our society not shutting it down,” Winde said.

Winde said the EFF’s shutdown, on the back of Nehawu’s strike, “will only exacerbate an already incendiary situation”.

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Cape Argus