DA leadership to take legal action against EFF ahead of proposed national shutdown

DA leader John Steenhuisen. File Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

DA leader John Steenhuisen. File Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 15, 2023


Durban — The DA cannot – and will not – stop the overwhelming frustration and pain of people in defence of Cyril Ramaphosa, and these frustrations will be felt on the streets on Monday, the EFF has warned.

“It is no retreat, no surrender, Ramaphosa must resign now!” said the EFF’s Sinawo Thambo, in a press statement, in response to the DA taking legal action against the planned national shutdown on Monday.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said South Africans were deeply concerned by the intimidatory tactics being employed by members of the EFF, who were threatening “consequences” for any business that dared to open and trade on the day, and for any adult or child who dared to go to work or school on that day.

According to Steenhuisen, the EFF’s explicit threats of violence and acts of intimidation include a picture on social media of the EFF Mpumalanga leader in full red EFF-branded clothing posing with a semi-automatic rifle, and a caption saying: “By all means necessary or possible we are ready @EFFSouthAfrica.”

They also include, he said:

– A video doing the rounds of EFF party members announcing the shutdown via a loudspeaker from the back of a bakkie, where the speaker is heard saying: “We are saying to you, close down all your businesses to avoid the looting. Close down all your shops to avoid the looting. Close down all your factories to avoid the lootings. Close down everything; nothing will be operating on that day; we are avoiding the looting. So, we are saying to you, come and join the march, my brother; come and join the march, my sister.”

– Giving the minister of education seven days to close schools, saying that any child wearing a school uniform will be doing so at their own risk.

– Issuing a letter to the OR Tambo Airport authorities warning them not to allow any flights or business activity on the day.

– The leader of the EFF has stated in no uncertain terms that he and his organisation will not apply for any approval from municipal authorities, who are the regulating authorities assigned to enforce legislation regarding public demonstrations, gatherings and protest action.

“The right to undertake peaceful protest action is a legitimate Constitutional right and the DA will defend this right, whether it is the DA, the EFF or any other group or individual that is protesting,” Steenhuisen said.

The DA has written to Defence Minister Thandi Modise and Police Minister Bheki Cele to ensure that they put on standby adequate numbers of soldiers and police for deployment to ensure that there is no outbreak of violence and looting.

Steenhuisen said the DA was taking steps to pre-empt this pending violence and prevent it from taking place at all, or at the very least to lessen the harm perpetrated.

The DA would approach the high court to ensure that the EFF complied with the conditions of permits issued by relevant municipalities giving permission for peaceful protest and would seek a court interdict to ensure that the EFF leadership formally retracted all intimidation letters that they have issued, such as the letter issued to OR Tambo Airport warning the airport authority not to allow any flights or business activity on the day.

Steenhuisen said the DA would draft a template affidavit that could be used by any business owner who has been intimidated by any EFF representatives. The DA would request Ramaphosa to issue a stern pre-emptive warning that no violence, vandalism or intimidation would be tolerated.

Thambo labelled the DA statement as an anti-democratic publicity stunt, frivolous, misguided and was confirmation that the DA still sought to salvage Ramaphosa’s presidency.

“The claims that the shutdown is illegal and will be characterised by violence is false. The right to protest is enshrined in the Constitution of South Africa, and will not only be practised by the EFF, but multiple stakeholders who have expressed their intention to form part of the shutdown,” Thambo said.

The EFF, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), the PAC and the Land Party have all expressed their intention to form part of the national shutdown, and none of these organisations which represent the democratic will of the people through elections and the labour sector had expressed any intention to commit criminal acts or violence.

Political parties such as the United Democratic Movement (UDM) will be demonstrating at the North Gauteng High Court in Tshwane, while other parties and civil movements have also expressed their intention to raise their concerns through the courts or on the picket lines.

“The attempt by the DA to single out the EFF and frame the national shutdown as the sole preserve of the EFF is equally deliberate, because the DA has realised that the EFF remains its only ideological enemy and a direct threat to its status as the official opposition party,” Thambo said.

The people of South Africa are tired of the conditions in this country. The massive unemployment, high rate of crime and gender-based violence, lack of service delivery, corruption and the continued rolling electricity blackouts can no longer be tolerated, the party said.

eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the city would leave nothing to chance if the proposed national shutdown gained traction.

He said the metro police were engaging with the SAPS to come up with a comprehensive security plan to prevent the undermining of the authority of the state and to ensure that the public and the business community felt safe.

All municipal services would be available as employees were expected to report for duty.

Kaunda added that the city leadership had been assured by the EFF that the shutdown would be peaceful and that there would be no disruptions.

“Under no circumstances will we allow the shutdown of economic activities, no matter the gravity of the grievances,” Kaunda said.

“While peaceful protests are allowed, we have a responsibility to protect those who are not part of this shutdown, and it is their right to be protected.

“Those protesting must do so within the ambit of the law.

“Anyone undermining the authority of the state shall face the full might of the law and we will not relent in this regard,” said Kaunda.

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