South Africa braces for nationwide protests


Published: 2023-03-20 11:47

Last Updated: 2024-04-15 13:55

South Africa braces for nationwide protests
South Africa braces for nationwide protests

South Africa braced for protests Monday after a left-wing party called for a "national shut-down", sparking fears of a repeat of unrest that turned deadly two years ago.

Authorities said there would be a heavy police presence to deal with any possible violence, after the third largest party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) urged South Africans to take to the streets and bring the country to a halt.

"The president has instructed law enforcement agencies to ensure that we do not have to see the repeat of those scenes that we saw back in 2021," President Cyril Ramaphosa's spokesman Vincent Magwenya told a press briefing on Sunday.

"The state has a responsibility to ensure that citizens can go on about their day... in a normal way and when doing so, that they are safe and that they are not subjected to any anarchy or any form of violence."

At least 350 people were killed in July 2021 as protests sparked by the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma spiraled into riots and looting.

The EFF is demanding Ramaphosa's resignation over his handling of South Africa's sickly economy, electricity shortages and stratospheric unemployment.

In a statement Saturday, the party told would-be protesters their actions "must be militant and radical" but to behave "peacefully" and watch out for "agent provocateurs" attempting to hijack the strike.

"No one can stop a revolution," EFF leader Julius Malema told supporters Friday.

Ports, parliament, border crossings and the Johannesburg stock exchange, among others, will be targeted as key protesting points, Malema has said.