Political parties urge Ramaphosa to deploy more soldiers to deal with riots

President warned party leaders on Wednesday that 'several areas of the country may soon be running short of basic provisions'

14 July 2021 - 18:09
By kgothatso madisa AND Kgothatso Madisa
Soldiers patrol Voslorus as part of operations to quell looting and riots.
Image: Alon Skuy Soldiers patrol Voslorus as part of operations to quell looting and riots.

Leaders of political parties have urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to deploy more soldiers as reinforcement to areas of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal plagued by public violence and rampant looting since the weekend.

The party bosses represented in the National Assembly made their proposals to Ramaphosa during a virtual meeting he convened on Wednesday to discuss measures to stem the violence sparked initially by last week's incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma.

The meeting was attended by all major political parties such as the ANC, the DA, the IFP, the UDM, the FF Plus and other smaller parties — but was snubbed by the EFF.

In a statement, Ramaphosa's office said the leaders of political parties called on the government to reopen major routes in KwaZulu-Natal, including the main N3 and the N2 highways, to avoid an imminent shortage of food. They also called on his government to protect the secured supply of other goods, such as fuel and medical supplies, after road blockades by those looting and rioting.

Ramaphosa, according to his acting spokesperson Tyrone Seale, told the meeting that their proposals would be seriously considered.

“Leaders urged that major transport routes be secured by to allow fuel, food, medical supplies and other necessities to reach communities and that the 9pm-4am curfew be strictly enforced,” said Seale.

According to Seale, Ramaphosa told the party leaders that it was indeed true that the country could soon feel the affect of the riots  and looting, which may hurt the supply of goods and services across many sectors of the economy.

“The president cautioned that several areas of the country may soon be running short of basic provisions after the extensive disruption of food, fuel and medicine supply chains.”

The government on Monday deployed soldiers to reinforce the overwhelmed police in the looting hotspots. There have, however, been complaints that the soldiers were not visible, especially in KZN where looting continues. Political leaders have told Ramaphosa that there was a need to deploy more of the army.

“The political leaders called for greater co-ordination among the police, the defence force, intelligence agencies, private security services and community-based safety structures,” Seale said.

“President Ramaphosa welcomed proposals made by political leaders and said expanded deployment of the defence force was being addressed.”

The parties agreed that what was happening was an attack on the “democratic order” which required an all hands on deck approach.

It was also clear in the meeting that poverty and unemployment has contributed massively to the looting, Seale said.

“However, leaders said current conditions called for an immediate restoration of calm and order in communities, enabled by expanded deployment of the defence force as a deterrent to violence and other forms of lawlessness.”