‘It’s sad but we warned the ANC’: Carl Niehaus weighs in on fiery protests

12 July 2021 - 13:06 By nonkululeko njilo
Looters run from police in Vosloorus, east of Johannesburg, on July 12 2021.
Looters run from police in Vosloorus, east of Johannesburg, on July 12 2021.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

The disbanded Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) says sporadic violent protests over the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma could have been averted if the leadership of the ANC had political will.   

The association, staunch supporters of the former president, had previously said Zuma’s arrest would lead to instability in SA. 

Shortly after his arrest late last Wednesday night, protest action flared up in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and has so far claimed the lives of six people. Criminal elements have emerged with goods worth millions looted and building and vehicles damaged and destroyed.   

A violent mob set Naledi Mall in Vosloorus alight on Monday morning (July 12 2021), and then looted and vandalised the building. Many people, including children, were seen stealing groceries from the fire-damaged buildings.

The protests have since spread to other parts of the country.

“What is happening is a vindication of what we warned would happen. We know there is a huge support base for Zuma which was going to be very angry because of this and that is exactly what is happening,” said MKMVA spokesperson Carl Niehaus.

Zuma is serving a 15-month sentence after being found guilty of contempt of court for failing to appear before the state capture inquiry.

“Unfortunately I find myself in a position where I can say to the national executive committee (NEC) of the ANC that we told you so. They must start taking responsibility,” said Niehaus.    

There have been calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to grant Zuma a presidential pardon.

The MKMVA would not be drawn to comment on this. However, it said it would continue expressing its dissatisfaction over his imprisonment.

“I cannot comment on the process we are going to follow but we will continue expressing our standpoint that [former] president Zuma does not deserve to be in jail. But I know that if there is a political will, this matter can be resolved. There can be an intervention and [former] president Zuma can sleep at home tonight,” Niehaus said. 

The Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) press briefing at the entrance of former president Jacob Zuma’s home degenerated into chaos and was stopped prematurely on July 2 2021 after supporters intimidated members of the media.

This could have been averted and it lies squarely at the political responsibility of the leadership of the ANC.
Carl Niehaus

He maintained the association was not behind the protests nor the criminal activities.

“It is sad, it is unfortunate, but we told you that if you do not take political responsibility, if you want to wash your hands, the consequences will be instability and that is exactly what is happening.

“The fact that we have warned that this is likely to happen, it is happening and to try to be disingenuous, to try to blame and accuse us of [stoking] instability is unacceptable. This could have been averted and it lies squarely at the political re

sponsibility of the leadership of the ANC,” he said.

Addressing the nation on Sunday, Ramaphosa slammed the protests, which he said comprise “ethnic mobilisation” acts. 

“This must be condemned by all South Africans at all costs as we are a nation committed to nonracialism and non-tribalism that is underpinned by the diversity and unity of all people of SA, whatever their language, culture, religious beliefs and race. All people are equal before the law, and all people have the right to equal protection before the law.”

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