President Cyril Ramaphosa reiterates July unrest was an “attempted insurrection”
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DURBAN - PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has stuck to his guns, saying the violent unrest in July in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal was an “attempted insurrection”.
Ramaphosa was responding to a written parliamentary question by DA leader John Steenhuisen, who wanted to know on what grounds the president had classified the unrest an attempted insurrection; details of the evidence that informed his decision; and who supplied the evidence.
Steenhuisen’s question stemmed from Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on July 16, when he characterised the unrest as an attempted insurrection.
Responding, Ramaphosa said: “I described the violence and destruction … as an attempted insurrection that failed to gain popular support.”
He said that in his July address he had highlighted some of the key features of the attempted insurrection, which included:
- Deliberate, co-ordinated and well-planned actions intended to cripple the economy, cause social instability and severely weaken – or even dislodge – the democratic state;
- The exploitation of the social and economic conditions under which many South Africans live to provoke ordinary citizens and criminal networks to engage in opportunistic acts of looting;
- Economic sabotage through targeted attacks on trucks, factories, warehouses and other infrastructure necessary for the functioning of the economy and the provision of services; and
- Attempts to inflame racial tensions and violence through social media, fake news and misinformation.
“The characterisation of the unrest in these terms was based on reports and analysis received by the National Security Council, meetings with stakeholders, site visits to areas in KZN affected by the violence and media reports of the events,” Ramaphosa said.
Unisa political analyst Professor Dirk Kotzé said it was important that Ramaphosa referred to the unrest as an attempted insurrection because it had started out as protests and then intensified.
“There were signs of planning, destruction of infrastructure such as food distribution centres, highways and electric networks. It was indicative of planning to destabilise,” Kotzé said.
“The initial part of it can be regarded as an insurrection, but the looting part, no. Insurrection has a political motive.”
IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said: “As the IFP, we are of the opinion that the roots of the July unrest lie in issues emanating from well-publicised ANC factionalism.
"In the aftermath of the unrest, several things became apparent. According to reputable media sources, members of the ruling party were identified as instigators of the violence and destruction. In August, the IFP called for the ruling party to hold these instigators to account, but the ruling party remained silent, and, to date, very few have been held accountable for their actions.”
Hlengwa said it was very clear from interactions between ministers, the media and Ramaphosa, as well as the almost complete lack of intelligence provided, that the Security Cluster had failed miserably in its duties.
Meanwhile, in a separate parliamentary question, Steenhuisen asked Ramaphosa whether he had found that the attempted insurrection was instigated by members and/or factions of the ANC, and whether they had been identified as instigators.
Ramaphosa said law enforcement agencies had arrested several individuals allegedly involved in the instigation and/or incitement of the violence that occurred in KZN and Gauteng.
“The cases are now before the courts and the law must be allowed to take its course. Investigations by law enforcement agencies are ongoing. It would not be correct to pre-empt the outcome of these processes.” he said.
“I have appointed a panel of experts, led by Professor Sandy Africa, to undertake a full analysis of the possible causes of the unrest and the response of our law enforcement agencies. I look forward to their report, which they have promised me will be ready at the end of the year.”