“Almost no loss”: Poverty and despair fueled the unrest in South Africa | Protest News
Johannesburg, South Africa—— South Africa is facing its worst unrest in decades as protests against the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma have led to escalation of violence and robbery.
At least 72 people were killed in six consecutive days of violent clashes between police and protesters and a stampede by robbers. So far, more than 1,200 people have been arrested.
At first it was to protest Zuma in prison On Friday, dissatisfaction with inequality and poverty caused by contempt of court has swept the country.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has deployed 2,500 soldiers to Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, the two provincial centers of the riots, to help the large numbers and unable to cope with the ongoing chaos Police.
“Communities that have been left behind in the most unequal society in the world are angry and lash out at this system,” political analyst Professor McEbisi Ndletyana told Al Jazeera.
“For decades, this anger has been bubbling under the surface. We may be experiencing a revolution of the poor, and this revolution is being used by criminals who have benefited from rebellion and unrest.”
‘We are all hungry’
For fear of violence, thousands of businesses were looted or forced to close their doors.
Humphrey Jeffries*, the owner of a trucking parts company in the Johannesburg Central Business District, told us: “We are closed because we will be looted. It took us decades to afford these equipment. My 14 Employees must stay at home until they are safe.” Al Jazeera.
“After 48 years of business, we are now facing the real prospect of layoffs and even bankruptcy. We managed to get through the initial COVID-19 crazy lockdown, but now this is too much.”
So far, 200 shopping centers and shopping centers across the country have been forced to close due to violence, and everything from food and medicine to flat-screen TVs and clothes have been taken away during the robbery.
Jabulani Mall in Soweto, the country’s largest town, has been completely destroyed by looting and vandalism. The business owners tried to rescue the small amount of inventory left under the surveillance of the security forces. They only managed to keep the protesting crowd out.
“People started breaking into shops and stealing because we wanted former President Jacob Zuma to be released,” Msichikoza, one of the protesters, told Al Jazeera.
“But even if the president does, [looting] Will continue because we are also hungry and need something to survive. “
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, South Africa’s economy has rebounded, and the country’s Ministry of Finance predicts that the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate in 2021 will be as high as 3.1%.
However, in a society classified as one of the most unequal in the world, with a Gini coefficient of 63, more than half of the population lives in poverty, and the unemployment rate has risen to more than 32%.
As South Africa is fighting the third wave of coronavirus, more than 2,500 people have died in the past week alone, and the country’s economic recovery has also been affected by another lockdown.
“People are under a lot of pressure. Crime and lawlessness have always been a risk to the South African economy,” economist Xhanti Payi told Al Jazeera.
“But this instability will weaken any attempt to rebuild the economy for the benefit of everyone. The poorest people will suffer the most from this. More unemployment and government finances will not be able to support people to join the poverty line.”
Even after the deployment of the armed forces, the unrest continued to rages and has now spread to the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga provinces.
With the country’s logistics supply chain quickly affected, shortages of fuel, food and medicine are now expected to be only a few days away.
“The main transportation route from the largest port of Durban in Africa to Johannesburg, the economic capital of South Africa, has been closed and can accommodate 6,000 trucks per day,” transportation and logistics expert Mike Schussler told Al Jazeera.
“Therefore, this will not only affect this country, but will also have a serious ripple effect on other parts of Southern Africa and other parts of the African continent.”
Security analyst Helmoed Heitman told Al Jazeera that although the unrest was partially explained as the behavior of desperate people living in poverty, it was also stimulated by political opportunism.
“This has two aspects: a large group of people have no hope for the future, protests and robberies have almost no losses, and at the same time, political conflicts arise because those allied with former President Jacob Zuma will benefit from the future of the country. Violence and destruction Law and order.”
*The name was changed for fear of becoming a target of protesters.