DA LEADER John Steenhuisen has criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa’s response to the violent looting and unrest in South Africa, saying his address to the nation “fell short”.
Speaking shortly after Ramaphosa called for calm in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, Steenhuisen said he hoped the president’s speech would have brought more comfort.
“I don’t think that speech is any comfort to those in KZN living in fear of their lives, livelihoods and properties.
“It is a tough situation and I really wanted to get behind the president but he seems wholly disconnected with what is happening on the ground,” Steenhuisen said.
He said it was due to an “astounding failure of domestic intelligence” that led to this situation and he feared that since the police battled to control the violent crowds of looters, there would be more damage tonight.
“I imagine that the number of bodies could get higher overnight as the volatile situation heightens.
“We need leadership and we need the best of all South Africans to come together,” Steenhuisen said.
Political analyst Ongama Mtimka said Ramaphosa was leading in uncertain times that demanded swift action.
“But there is no denying that there are long-term issues that people are protesting about that can’t be addressed in a day,” he said.
Mtimka said that he was happy to see the government deploy the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
“I was expecting a response from government that matches the crisis on the ground, and the deployment of the army is that,” he said.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe told a news broadcaster that the affected provinces - Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal - would see greater visibility of authorities on the ground after the president’s speech.
“But government cannot create stability in communities without the assistance of those very communities.
“We have seen the looting of shops, destruction of properties. If left unattended, it would be very dire, especially for those who work in those shops and won’t be able to provide for their families,” Mabe said.
He said the ANC was calling for calm.
Mabe also said he was concerned about ANC members inciting violence on social media.
On Twitter, another political analyst Daniel Silke said that whatever was contained in Ramaphosa speech, “it's the inability of his depleted and disengaged security cluster to uphold their constitutional responsibilities and formulate a strategic response plan.
“If there indeed is one, the president seemed unable to articulate it,” Silke said.