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National shutdown: Unions, parties reject counter-productive threats to disrupt economy and destroy infrastructure

Reports of a possible national shutdown became a subject of interest as many took on social media calling for ordinary people to take to the streets in protests against the ever-rising food and fuel prices. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA).

Reports of a possible national shutdown became a subject of interest as many took on social media calling for ordinary people to take to the streets in protests against the ever-rising food and fuel prices. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA).

Published Jun 10, 2022

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Durban — The high cost of food and oil coupled with the recent scandal involving President Cyril Ramaphosa’s alleged criminal activity at his Phala Phala farm may trigger a national shutdown.

On Thursday, reports of a possible national shutdown became a subject of interest as many took to social media calling for ordinary people to take to the streets in protest against the ever-rising food and fuel prices.

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Another worrying factor was Ramaphosa’s alleged criminal activity, in which he is accused of deliberately withholding information and failing to report information about a robbery at his farm, where more than R60 million hidden under mattresses and couches was stolen from the house. Perpetrators were allegedly tortured and bribed not to reveal the information to the public.

In response to the anticipated strike, eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda placed the metro police on high alert to counter any act of illegal activity that may result in a shutdown.

“The city is still reeling from the effects of the recent floods. While we are all concerned about the price of petrol, disrupting businesses and shutting down the country is counter-productive. It will reverse all the gains that we have made following disruptions related to Covid-19, the July unrest, and the recent floods. The law will take its course in the event of anyone disregarding it,” said Kaunda.

Cosatu told the Daily News that it had not been approached by anyone to form part of the shutdown, but confirmed that it had planned its own shutdown programme scheduled for next week.

“We have also checked with some transport operators and the ones we spoke to have said they were not participating in a shutdown. However, I can confirm that we have our programme as Cosatu KZN planned for June 17, and most organisations and some operators have declared their interest in working with us, as fuel price increases are a problem for everyone,” said KZN Cosatu spokesperson Edwin Mkhize.

Although EFF leader Julius Malema indicated on Tuesday that his party could not rule out a possible shutdown and that, if necessary, his party would mobilise some sectors to protest against Ramaphosa, party spokesperson Sinawo Thambo said the EFF would not participate in a shutdown this week.

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“The EFF is not aware of any national shutdown tomorrow (Friday). When we take any action regarding anything, we will communicate such on our official platforms,” said Thambo.

DA national spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said that the party would not support the shutdown as the country could not afford other disruptions and destruction of infrastructure.

“The South African economy has been brought to its knees over the past three years, and millions of people remain unemployed and poor. We cannot afford further disruptions and destruction.”

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Gwarube added: “The DA has taken note of the grave allegations that Ramaphosa is facing. As such, we have asked that the South African Reserve Bank and the SA Revenue Service investigate the existence of foreign currency in the president’s home, including whether any laws were broken.”

Leader of the IFP Velenkosini Hlabisa also raised concern over the possible shutdown and argued that such action would only deepen the economic crisis the country faced.

“With an economy and a country teetering on a crisis, such action does not bode well. We are already on our knees as a country, and such grievances cannot be dealt with through a shutdown. The IFP does not support any action that has the potential to either create or result in anarchy, as there is nothing at this point that necessitates such action,” he said.

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On criminal allegations against Ramaphosa, Hlabisa said the law must be allowed to take its course.

“The IFP notes these serious allegations levelled against the president, and we, therefore, call on all institutions and law enforcement agencies to investigate these claims. If there is merit in the case, the president must face the full might of the law. No one is above the law.”

Political analysts also weighed in, with Dr Metji Makgoba arguing that: “The measurement of any sitting president should move beyond comparison with his predecessors. He/she must be judged by their vision for the society, how they execute it, and how they handle socio-economic crises.”

Professor Sipho Seepe felt that the national shutdown was the beginning, and in time, the people’s displeasure would gain traction. He said this would be enabled by the fact that the ruling party was ideologically lost.

Daily News

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