Violence Watch

The danger of wide-spread violence in SA keeps mounting

Caspers for townships?

The convergence of a wide range of factors – political, economic, and social – are converging to keep the danger of wide-spread violence in South Africa constantly ticking up.

Some ten days ago, shortly after the African National Congress’s (ANC) national policy conference (NPC), Peter Attard Montalto, investor’s analyst at Nomura investment company, in a note to clients predicted a likely increase in political violence in the country. He based his reading on a perception that the ANC faction backing President Jacob Zuma is losing considerable ground.

His fear is that Zuma, using his current majority within the ANC national executive committee (NEC), would call off the elective conference, scheduled for December, if a victory for his faction is not guaranteed.  

Besides the chaos, it would trigger inside the party, he fears that the stakes may be so high, that Zuma and his supporters may stop at nothing to secure a win.

How high the stakes are, was illustrated by a rumoured amnesty deal, worth in the order of two billion rand, circulating last week. Reporting on the matter in the Daily Maverick, Richard Poplak wrote: “What happens to the many hundreds of millions – billions, actually - already stolen and squandered by his cronies? Many, many people will be required to take the fall in order to purge the country of its current president so that the country can be ‘fixed’”.

Present indications are that the amnesty deal, said to have been hatched by a group in the Cyril Ramaphosa faction, will not fly.

Other political drivers

However, Zuma’s final term as president of the ANC runs out in December. While there have been some 400 political murders in the country in the past seven years, there seems to have been an uptick in recent times. Some reports putting it in the high 30s thus far this year alone.

ANC Member of Parliament, Makhosi Khoza, a strong critic of President Zuma, recently had death threats on her cell phone, which she posted with screengrabs on her Facebook.

Khoza, chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration, has been an outspoken critic of what she has called the "politics of patronage" within the ANC, and recently requested the 8th of August motion of no confidence vote against President Zuma be done via a secret ballot for ‘safety reasons.’

Under the patronage system that has developed at all levels of government under the ANC, it is also not sure when the murders can be linked to power battles at national level, and when at regional and local level. Especially in Mr Zuma’s home province of Kwazulu-Natal it would seem that being a local government councillor has become a particularly hazardous occupation.

Only last week, three ANC councillors, including a former provincial secretary general, Sindiso Magana, were shot at in Umzimkhulu, KZN, and had to be hospitalised with serious injuries. They were leaving an ANC-meeting when the incident took place.

A commission of inquiry, established by the KZN provincial government into political killings in KwaZulu-Natal’s Glebelands hostel on recommendation by the previous Public Protector, is ongoing.  It’s investigating politically-motivated murders dating back to 2011. Since March 2014 almost 90 people have been killed, and 33 already this year in suspected politically linked murders. The latest victim is an ANC councillor in Richmond. To date, no arrests have yet been made in connection of any of these murders.

Violence is also not only directed at internal factions. Last week a community meeting, organised by the Democratic Alliance in a Soshanguve community hall, was disrupted by the ANC.

Chaos at local government level

How chaotically dangerous the relationship between municipal governments and communities, frustrated by service delivery failure and lack of orderly urbanisation strategies, has become, is illustrated by the fact that the local government of Durban found it necessary to procure Casper military armed ‘troop carriers.’

A short list of news headlines on this front tells a story of its own:

  • Protesting Pretoria West residents in clashes with cops;
  • Second week of mass evictions and violent protests in Port Elizabeth;
  • Shack dwellers, home owners' stand-off continues in Mamelodi;
  • Unrest in Mahube Valley claims life of day-old infant;
  • “This is not a place for human beings,” with Blikkiesdorp (Tin Town), Cape Town;
  • FMasiphumelele residents question City’s compliance with court interdict as homeowners fight informal settlement neighbours over electricity;
  • 14 people live in a one-room shack;
  • Khayelitsha backyarders clash with police;
  • Toilets not emptied for a year, say residents; and

These are headlines over a period of less than two weeks.

To this can be added an even longer list of negative economic indicators like ever rising unemployment, more people on social grants than in jobs, and many more.

Under these circumstances, the fact that Montalto describes the upcoming ANC elective conference as shaping up to “be a straight fight between two factions,” might become irrelevant. A Marikana-type incident with one of those Caspers in KZN could just spark nation-wide unrest or a popular revolt.

by Intelligence Bulletin Team

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