South Africa

Violence and unrest warning for South Africa

Crisis24 has warned that there is a higher risk of violence and unrest in South Africa linked to increased political tensions.

Crisis24 forms part of GardaWorld, an international provider of security services and integrated risk management.

GardaWorld is headquartered in Canada, with global operations centres in the United States, UK, Germany, Singapore, and Australia. It has many regional offices, including South Africa.

It said South Africa faces increased security nationwide through mid-June following South Africa’s general election results.

The heightened unrest risk followed the national elections on 29 May, in which the ANC lost its outright majority.

The ANC is engaged in negotiations with the Democratic Alliance (DA), uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to form a majority before Parliament’s opening.

“The Assembly’s first sitting will be held on June 16 at the latest. MK has rejected the results and has announced they would appeal for a recount,” it said.

The elections were peaceful. However, the current cycle has seen increased political tensions, especially surrounding former President Jacob Zuma’s MK party.

“There are serious concerns that his supporters could seek to disrupt political proceedings and instigate acts of civil unrest – including road blockages, violence, and riots,” Crisis24 said.

“Protest locations are likely primarily concentrated in KwaZulu-Natal Province, though incidents in Gauteng or Mpumalanga Province cannot be ruled out.”

It added that increased security is likely nationwide, particularly in areas with a higher threat of politically motivated protests and violence.

It said that the high potential of violence peripheral to protests is of serious concern to travellers.

“Any events will likely generate transport and business disruptions and could escalate into broader acts of rioting should security services not prove able to contain crowds,” it said.

“Clashes between security forces, opposing rival activists, striking union members, or other forms of political violence are likely.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa said this moment in South Africa calls for responsible leadership and constructive engagement.

“There can be no place for threats of violence or instability,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter.

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) CEO Cas Coovadia also said he is concerned about the statements made by some political players rejecting the election results.

“We urge all political parties to act responsibly and refrain from inciting violence that could plunge the country into unrest,” he said.

Expert opinion about violence and unrest in South Africa

Chris Hattingh, executive director at the Centre for Risk Analysis

Chris Hattingh, executive director at the Centre for Risk Analysis, said some political players are trying to take advantage of the current uncertainty.

Hattingh told The Money Show that politicians like MK’s Jacob Zuma can benefit from increased uncertainty and anxiety.

They can then ask for more concessions when there are coalition discussions because of pressure from the outside.

“If there are protests and unrest, they can say give us what we want, and those actions will cease,” he said.

The good news is that the police, private security, the business sector, and community organisations are more prepared than during the July 2021 riots.

That means those trying to sow dissent and encourage protests and unrest must consider their timing.

It will make sense for them to wait until the police and intelligence services drop their guard and relax before striking.

He added that sporadic and seemingly isolated protest action seen in KwaZulu-Natal could be to test the security services.

“If they don’t see sufficient pushback, they can mobilise more people and push forward,” Hattingh said.

He added that politicians trying to incite violence and unrest will use people’s frustrations to their benefit.

The country’s poor economic growth, high unemployment, poverty, and poor service delivery create fertile ground to incite protests.

Economist Dawie Roodt also said he was concerned about a repeat of the violence and looting experienced in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng in July 2021.

“There can be a spark that sets the whole thing in motion. That is what I am concerned about,” he said.

“The unrest can pick up momentum because of the underlying factors, like unemployment and poverty. These forces can drive violence in South Africa.”


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