South Africa

EFF SHUTDOWN OP-ED

Freedom of movement is a human right: No political party can stop anyone from marching, travelling, working or staying at home

Freedom of movement is a human right: No  political party can  stop anyone from marching, travelling, working  or staying at home
An Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) member burning tyres in Pretoria city centre on 2 November 2016. (Photo: EPA / Herman Verwey)

No individual or group can enforce their personal ideology on an entire nation; whoever wants to march has the right to do so, but they don’t have the right to intimidate or threaten others.

Those who want to march, stay at home, go about their activity or travel on Monday 20 March, have every right to do so without fear of harm or force from any political party.

Political parties garner support of the electorate to serve in government either as the ruling party or within the opposition, all making the same promise that they are there to “strive for a better life for all”.

Responsible leaders, in the process of rebuilding a country with a fractured past, will maintain social cohesion as the underlying theme in all areas of economic, social and political progress – to ensure that nation building triumphs in every sphere; that unity, harmony and love are the key principles in our prosperity or difficulty. 

The example was set by the late President Nelson Mandela and leaders like the late Walter Sisulu, whose success lay in their humility, compassion, pragmatism, humanity and service above self.

Any political party, association, grouping and the like that ignites the flames of conflict, hatred, mayhem and disorder can never be trusted to serve in government in the best interest of the nation.

When ego, opportunism, self-aggrandisement, inflammatory language and irrational behavior take over the psyche of individuals and formations in this context, the actions that follow are intrinsically anti-patriotic, treacherous, immoral, devoid of spirituality and akin to agent provocateurs aimed at destroying communities, relationships, trust and the economy – the absolute opposite of what they proclaim to be striving for.


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The adage, “The Gods make mad first those whom they destroy”, has relevance.

No responsible, sensible “leader” will create a situation where the SANDF, SAPS, VISPOL, RTI, security companies and citizens have to stand ready to act against fellow South African citizens who are brothers and sisters in our nation of 65 million people. We are a peace-loving nation with the spirit of love, ubuntu and faith within us, and in that spirit want our country to develop in peace and harmony.

Our nation is exhausted emotionally, psychologically and economically. What it requires now is positivity and goodwill. Covid-19, lockdown, the civil unrest of 2021, floods of 2022, load shedding, job losses and hunger are impacting heavily on our people. 

We require decisive leadership, encouraging actions and interventions that will build the economy, create jobs, calm unsettled minds and instill hope. The right to protest is enshrined in our Constitution, we support that wholeheartedly, and so is the right of people to carry out essential services, seek medical attention, earn a living, take their children to ECD centres, school and university without fear or anxiety.

No individual or group can enforce their personal ideology on an entire nation; whoever wants to march has the right to do so, but they don’t have the right to close roads, limit access, intimidate or threaten those who do not participate in their form of thinking. This country does not belong to one grouping, it belongs to all of us, and we certainly will not be dictated to by any entity. 

Citizens, like leaders, are also expected to behave responsibly, a march that is conducted peacefully without infringing on the rights of the others will gain respect. Monday, 20 March, is an open day for all and must be respected as such, for those who want to march, stay at home, go about their activity or travel, there should be no fear nor restriction, as that is what RIGHTS are all about. DM 

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman is the founder of Gift of the Givers, a charity and aid organisation.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Marilyn Small says:

    Utmost respect and admiration for our world class statesman, effective activist and peace-lover, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman. Imagine if our government comprised only of persons of such high moral calibre !

  • I agree with you Sir. South Africans is tired and punch drunk. We must however not forget that those politicians who contributes to the carnage in our country was voted into power by us. We have the power to vote them out. We must stop believing all the promises that politicians make and decide for ourselves what is right for us. The country could have been a different place if it was not for these politicians. We are fed up with all those arrogant and indecisive politicians who has placed this country in the state that it is. They are not here to serve the people of the country but only themselves.

  • L Dennis says:

    Totally agree with your article

  • Graeme de Villiers says:

    I hope this message ages well, written on Sunday 19 March

  • Diana Bidwell says:

    Words of wisdom. Thank you Dr Sooliman. Now let us hope that the protesters read them.

  • Bruce Q says:

    Dr. Sooliman, you are a light shining in the very dark place that our beautiful country finds itself today.
    Truly the voice of reason.
    But more than that, you and the wonderful people you have gathered around you, are “Doers”! You actually do good for your fellow human beings. You don’t simply talk about doing good.
    You are the very antithesis of our so-called leaders. You shame them.
    However, we the people, admire you and your remarkable group.
    You make us proud.
    To know that South Africa can produce great people like yourself and Mandela is what gives us hope for the future of our children.
    Thank you.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Whilst I admire Dr Sooliman and his organisation, I’m a little uncomfortable with his political comment having remained “unpolitical” up until now.

    • Ingrid Kemp says:

      I don’t find this political at all – just the thoughts and advice of an incredibly wise man.

    • David Forbes says:

      Political Jane? I don’t think so. He’s just stating the obvious truths of the matter. Even if you do think it was political, it’s a voice of reason we all need to hear and reflect on. The behaviour of the EFF was, on the whole, exemplary, and should perhaps give those who aggressively dismiss it out of hand something to think about.

  • Stef Viljoen Viljoen says:

    “We require decisive leadership, encouraging actions and interventions that will build the economy, create jobs, calm unsettled minds and instill hope.”. We do indeed. The problem,, I think, is that we do not have leaders like that IN OUR POLITICS. Measure any one of the current crop of politicians and you will agree. There are people with those characteristics(the good doctor might be one of them) but they are outside of politics. I suspect it will need(as one of the esteemed idiots yack-yacked) a revolution to change things.
    Or not and then my bet is that SA will just slide the way the rest of African countries have.

  • Jon Quirk says:

    Far too many column inches have been expended on reporting on the tantrums of the EFF and their corrupt leadership. They should now be denied oxygen, leave them alone in their dark, destructive bunker – their antics are, in any event, largely diversionary and designed more to complicate the arrest of their leadership – and that is the one remains aspect of reporting on the EFF we all look forward to reading.

    The arrests of Messrs Malema and Shivambu: both hoist by their own petards, as they too are then forced to “pay back the money”.

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      I wonder if the VBS noose is not what’s behind this pathetic ‘revolution’? Malema and Shivambu know that the law is inching ever closer to them and that their salad days may well be over, unless they do something extraordinary (by all accounts, proving their innocence isn’t one of them) – like flex their muscle to show that if they get arrested, they have the power to incite similar or greater levels of violence and destruction to that unleashed by the Bell-Pottinger ANC when Zuma was slammed behind bars? So far, it appears to be an Epic F###ing Fail!

  • Jan Malan says:

    Today is International Day of Happiness. Why must politicians spoil this day with a march and mayhem? In fact with the chaos politicians are causing we have more days of misery than happiness in any given year.

  • philwilliamsct says:

    Well said Dr Sooliman ! Most South Africans appreciate your very sensible approach & we are all incredibly proud of the Gift of the Givers !

  • Rory Short says:

    “Monday, 20 March, is an open day for all and must be respected as such, for those who want to march, stay at home, go about their activity or travel, there should be no fear nor restriction, as that is what RIGHTS are all about.”

    Absolutely!!!

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