Wednesday, July 14, 2021

South Africa's Turmoil

 In South Africa, 72 people have died in six consecutive days of violent clashes between police and protesters. More than 1,200 people have been arrested so far. Initially started as a protest against the jailing of Zuma the demonstrations has mushroomed into grievances over inequality and poverty and have rocked the country.

 Thousands of businesses have been ransacked or forced to close their doors for fear of violence. So far 200 malls and shopping centres countrywide have been forced to close by the violence,

Troops are deployed to Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal, the two provincial epicentres of the unrest, to aid the police.

Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera, “This anger has been bubbling below the surface for decades and we might be experiencing a revolution of the poor that is being taken advantage of by criminals who benefit from the revolt and unrest.”

Security analyst Helmoed Heitman told Al Jazeera that while the unrest was partly explained as actions of a desperate populace living in poverty, it was also spurred by political opportunism.

“There’s two sides to this: a mass of people with no hope of a future and very little to lose by protesting and looting, alongside a political clash over the future of the country as those aligned with former President Jacob Zuma stand to benefit from the violence and breakdown of law and order.”

South Africa's unemployment has grown to more than 32 percent in a society classified as one of the most unequal in the world, with a Gini-Coefficient of 63 and more than half the population living in poverty.

“People are under a lot of pressure and crime and lawlessness has always been a risk in the South African economy,” economist Xhanti Payi told Al Jazeera.

 Fuel, food and medicine shortages are now predicted to be only days away.

“The main transport artery from Africa’s biggest port in Durban to South Africa’s economic capital of Johannesburg is closed holding up 6,000 trucks a day,” transport and logistics expert Mike Schussler told Al Jazeera.

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