JOHANNESBURG – Violent protests in Tshwane captured the nation’s attention on Monday night and most of Tuesday.
At the heart of this particular protest is the announcement of Thoko Didiza as the mayoral candidate of Tshwane ahead of the 2016 municipal elections. eNCA spoke to a number of experts during the day of protests to find out who is protesting, why such violent actions are behind taken and what can be expected next.
Here are five vital questions about the protests that our analysts answered:
1. Who is protesting?
Dr Jackie Cilliers, head of African Futures and Innovation at the Institute for Security Studies, said that the people who took to the streets to destroy more than 20 buses are desperate.
“Everything depends on them winning or losing a councillor or mayoral seat. “It shows that politics has become the root to everything and the gatekeeper to wealth and privilege in South Africa,” he said.
Cilliers said this is a bad spot for the country to be in.
“We expect South Africa’s going to go into a recession and grow below its potential for the next few years. Inequality is going to increase, unemployment is going to increase and we’re heading for a very violent electoral cycle” he said.
2. Why are the protests so violent?
Political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni said the violent actions of protesters are part of a bigger societal problem in South Africa.
“I do think that we would be making a big mistake if we contained this to the ANC because it is the largest party, here we are seeing a societal problem,” said Fikeni.
The violence is not limited to Tshwane, it’s been happening around the country where branches are divided over candidate lists.
Fikeni says the violence is “beginning to show itself in the form of political assassinations.”
He said violence was “without any doubt… the political culture that is taking route,” and that it’s important to consider what will happen if the ANC loses Tshwane or one of the other large metros.
“Will ANC constituents accept the outcome? Or, will we have very unstable municipalities even if party A or B continues because we have this culture where violence is the lingua franca (common language),” he said.
3. Where next?
Cilliers says that according to recent research, political protests will spread further, to rural and urban areas.
“It’s mostly going to be where contestation between the ANC and EFF is the most intense, so Gauteng is going to be the epicentre of that violence,” said Cilliers.
“The ANC is finding it very difficult to defend its track record of poor service delivery and poor leadership within its own constituency,” he said.
Earlier today ANC supporters clashed with the EFF, which had gone on a campaign visit to Tembisa.
4. What can be done to stop the violent nature of protests?
eNCA commentator Angelo Fick said that the level of violence could escalate.
“If the level of violence isn’t brought under control and the level of violent rhetoric in political campaigning isn’t toned down, the incendiary violence that we’re seeing at the moment could get worse,” he said.
So what can the ANC do to control its constituents and bring an end to the violent protests?
Cilliers says the ANC needs to find its moral compass.
“The ANC is the oldest liberation party in Africa with an immense history, but look who leads it at the moment and look at the example that it sets in terms of the policies,” he said.
Cilliers said the ANC has become a party that is largely “a rural-based traditionalist convervative party that presents no vision for South Africa.”
For the violent nature of protests to end, people’s lives needs to be improved and this can only be done through job creation.
“South Africa needs a fundamental restricting of our economy and a vision of not only how we build an inclusive political system but also an inclusive economic system,” said Cilliers.
“Without jobs we can’t do anything about inequality, we cannot deal with the joblessness and the hopelessness of many South Africans,” he said.
5. What can be done to stop the unrest in Tshwane?
Dr Siphamandla Zondi, director at the Institute for Global Dialogue, said that the ANC leadership needed to communicate with branches in Tshwane to resolve the issue.
“Clearly it will be difficult to reverse this decision (of making Didiza the candidate for mayor) because if it did, the ANC would have to review the contested decisions in other places,” said Zondi.
ANC leadership should communicate with branches and “assure them that the leaders they are backing won’t be lost and might be redeployed.”
“They must communicate with the people,” said Zondi.