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EFF march was a flop, South Africans did not want repeat of July riots – Mbalula

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ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has insisted that the EFF-led national shutdown came to nothing on Monday because the public did not come to the party, adding that people did not want a repeat of the July 2021 riots.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula. Picture: Itumeleng English, African News Agency (ANA)

ANC SECRETARY-general Fikile Mbalula has insisted that the EFF shutdown came to nothing on Monday because people did not come to the party adding people also did not want the repeat of July 2021 riots.

According to Mbalula, South Africans did not want to be associated with chaos as the party had told everyone and threatened businesses that they must close down or face the consequences.

He was speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday at the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters in the Johannesburg CBD.

Mbalula indicated that if Monday’s shutdown march by the red berets was peaceful, perhaps many people would have joined, but because the EFF had been warning of violence, threats and intimidation, people did not want to take part in it.

The march saw government beefing up security measures to prevent the events of 2021 where businesses were looted, 300 lives lost and many people lost their jobs.

In a country that is trying to recover from Covid-19, the ANC secretary-general said no one can afford another shutdown or violence that would have worsened the already dire situation and deteriorating economic conditions.

“A responsible state cannot allow that recurrence especially if you are forewarned. You have got to cover the bases of the whole country because you don’t know where it’s going to erupt,” said Mbalula, adding that inflammatory language was used before the shutdown.

He pointed out that during the July riots the country went through devastation and the looting continued for days with no police in sight. When the soldiers were eventually deployed after a few days the damage was already done and the economy had lost billions.

“If you define today who was fighting for what? Somebody just arrived, ignited and put petrol knowing very well our people are unemployed, attacked the shops and bakeries were looted to the ground. For days people went without food in this country. You saw live visuals on television of people running with fridges. When soldiers arrived everything was done,” said Mbalula.

He further pointed out that people did not heed the call for a shutdown because they did not want to be associated with violence.

“The fact that 530 people were arrested in connection with public violence and attempted looting by the SAPS on Monday showed the deployment of the army and police helped in containing the situation. Had the government not decided to send in the security services earlier the situation would have gone out of hand,” said Mbalula.

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