Can I catch a bus, plane or taxi? Will essential services be running?- What to know about the 'national shutdown'

16 March 2023 - 11:03
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The EFF has called for a national shutdown on March 20. File image
The EFF has called for a national shutdown on March 20. File image
Image: Esa Alexander

EFF leader Julius Malema has outlined plans for the party’s national shutdown on Monday. 

The red berets are calling for the resignation of President Cyril Ramaphosa and an end to load-shedding, among other issues. 

Malema has warned businesses countrywide to close their doors or risk looting.

Where is the starting point?

He did not name specific locations, instead saying the shutdown would start “wherever protesters are”.

“Fighters, wherever they are, are going to gather and protest. It is as simple as that. It doesn’t have transport or a route. The same way they protest in their communities, they will protest like that on the day. It is a protest, not a march. It does not have a formula.

“If the Union Buildings is such a centre, we will meet there. The branch of the EFF in that area must make sure they embark on an activity that demonstrates they must be heard.

“If they feel they must be heard at the stock exchange, they must go and occupy and protest there to show white capital that as they grow their shares and monies a lot of people are being left behind. If they can go to parliament or a legislature or council, a harbour or the border gates, anywhere where we can go, let’s go,” said Malema.

Who will not be affected?

Malema assured essential services workers they would be protected and have access to their workplaces.

“Essential services will be protected and they will make sure workers have access to their workplace without difficulty. That includes police, nurses and health workers. 

“Our structures will be co-operative and will make sure clinics and hospitals are functional.”

Will buses and taxis operate?

Commuter bus service Putco earlier said it would suspend operations after the company conducted a safety and risk assessment, but later u-turned on the decision after a meeting between transport minister Lydia Sindisiwe Chikunga, her deputy, senior government officials and executives of the Southern Africa Bus Operators' Association.

The South African National Taxi Council has distanced itself from the shutdown.

The association urged all provinces to inform their regions and taxi associations that Monday will be a normal operating day for the industry.

The National Taxi Alliance advised its members to ensure the safety of passengers and drivers by closely monitoring the situation on the ground.

The alliance announced it will be operating fully on Monday throughout the country.

“Equally so, we respect the right to strike and expect the marchers to reciprocate by respecting constitution-prescribed freedoms,” said spokesperson Theo Malele.

And flights?

Airports Company SA (Acsa) told TimesLIVE no flights will be cancelled on Monday as the security cluster promises to be on high alert and protect national key points.

The company said plans have been implemented to ensure operations at all airports would not be disrupted.

 “The security cluster that comprises all national security agencies and the ACSA management team, have met and all contingency plans are in place to ensure continued operations at all airports.

“All agencies are on high alert and patrols will be in place to protect this national key point,” Acsa said.

What will happen after the shutdown?

Malema warned there was a risk the shutdown could spill over to Tuesday, but said should protests continue beyond Monday, they would no longer be EFF-led. 

“If it goes beyond March 20 it will no longer be EFF-led because society has taken over and it will be confirmation of what we warned you about, that there will be an unled revolution in South Africa.

“No-one can stop it, no army can stop it and no police can stop it. Who can stop this? Ramaphosa can stop this by stepping down.” 

What about damage to property?

Malema said the party will not take responsibility for damage or loss of life. 

“We have said we are not going to damage property therefore we will not take responsibility for damaged property.

“Police have the responsibility to arrest criminals. Anyone who damages property will face law enforcement. Ours is a peaceful protest. You will only come back to us if we said be violent, but we have never said that.”

Should EFF members participate in looting or damaging of property, the party will take internal steps to discipline such people, Malema said.

Has the president said anything?

Ramaphosa ordered the country’s security forces to ensure there is no anarchy, intimidation and lawlessness.

“If you are going to restrict the rights of other people, coerce, intimidate and unleash violence, our security forces are going to defend the people of South Africa because we will not allow anarchy and disorder to prevail in this country. We will see what happens,” he said.

Ramaphosa said because many people will be travelling over the long weekend, the government expects “full order and harmony, and the security forces stand ready to defend the people of South Africa”.

“South Africa is governed by the rule of law and we are a constitutional democracy. Regime change can only come about through the vote. It cannot come about through anarchy and unleashing disorder in a country.”

LISTEN | The poor will suffer most from Malema’s shutdown, says Mbalula 


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