ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has condemned those who have been using former president Jacob Zuma as a “scapegoat” for planning the violence and looting “which took place in an unprecedented manner in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng”.
It’s “disingenuous to make the former president of the country a scapegoat and use his name,” she said, although she added that it was “unfortunate” that his incarceration appeared to have triggered the violence.
“Our concern is that such a plan has been thwarted so it has failed, but it does not mean that the people who are planning [this] are not continuing to plan, and may have softened their approach, but they certainly are not stopping what they’re trying to do.”
Duarte said this as a number of ANC members — many of whom have been suspended, such as Carl Niehaus and Andile Lungisa — issued a statement under the banner of the #FreeJacobZuma campaign in which they slam “leaders, and a government” for making them the scapegoats for the violence that broke out soon after Zuma’s incarceration on 7 July.
— Carl Niehaus (@niehaus_carl) August 4, 2021
Duarte told journalists at a briefing on Thursday morning that the party was hoping that law enforcement agencies will soon arrest the planners and those who instigated the violence three weeks ago, “and not just the six or seven thus far that have appeared in court”.
See the latest report by Ferial Haffajee here on the Good party sending explosive evidence to Hawks unit of 26 individuals directly implicated in SA’s July unrest, and also a previous article on: ANC members lodged ‘boast posts’ on Whatsapp groups after looting and truck hijackings)
Duarte said another “SMS” came out on Wednesday which the ANC is studying. “We understand that it is a call for a second phase of protest and hopefully the planners will now understand it will not continue in the manner that they wish to,” she said. Duarte said although people have a right to assemble and air their views in a democracy, “what we cannot allow for is for people to instigate violence”.
(The “SMS” in question was not immediately traceable by Daily Maverick.)
Although not everyone suspected of instigating the violence is from the ANC, Duarte said the ANC is busy drawing up disciplinary charges for those of its members who were involved.
She said the ANC was certain that the insurrection was planned. “You can’t have in a WhatsApp group a discussion on what areas are to be attacked, and then those 12 geographic areas are attacked,” she said. “To deny that it was planned, it was orchestrated, is futile.”
She also said the action gave rise to vigilantism and racial tensions in KwaZulu-Natal. This was especially evident in the residential area of Phoenix, where the official death toll reached 36 as vigilantes of Indian descent were accused of race-profiling and attacking black people who entered their residential area.
The Economic Freedom Fighters on Thursday morning gathered in their hundreds in the area to march in solidarity with the victims of the killings.
Duarte said a report on the planning of the violence was handed to the ANC and she said the party was clear that “we are not tolerant of this kind of behaviour”.
She also said although the party only had the numbers of those who participated in that WhatsApp group, “we made all the SMSes that we have available, to law enforcement”. This also included statements made by the relevant ANC members in this regard, she said.
Duarte said the ANC’s national working committee at its meeting on Monday “condemned the recent attempted counter-revolutionary violence and looting” and would continue mobilising communities to resist such actions, which destroyed jobs and economies.
She also hinted that the ANC’s national general council might be off the table completely, but that the policy conference, which usually happens about six months before an elective conference, was likely to go ahead in the middle of next year. The national general council is a gathering of branches midpoint between conferences, and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s detractors were hoping to use this to push back against him just as Zuma’s supporters used the 2005 conference to push back against his sacking as deputy president.
Meanwhile, the proponents of the #FreeJacobZuma campaign slammed Ramaphosa for not addressing their demands of pardoning Zuma from prison, and they said they would embark “on several key programmes of action, which will be peaceful and within the confines of the law”.
They will proceed with legal steps against Ramaphosa for “dereliction of duty and unfitness to hold office” also for failing to address the underlying socio-economic conditions that gave rise to the violence and looting, they said.
They also slammed Ramaphosa for calling it an insurrection and for originally saying it had tribal undertones.
The group is planning protest action as Zuma appears in court in Pietermaritzburg again on Tuesday, and said it would continue calling for Zuma’s release from prison, where he is serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court after ignoring an order to testify at the State Capture Inquiry.
“This will be followed up by further peaceful, and lawful, protest action that will ultimately culminate in community-based rolling mass action throughout the country,” they said.
They will also approach the International Criminal Court because “we are of the firm belief that there exists a solid prima facie case of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against this administration”. DM