Riots a 'counterrevolutionary insurgency', says Mbeki Foundation
During a week of unprecedented violence and chaos since the advent of democracy, South Africans tasted the “bitter fruits of a counterrevolutionary insurgency” that has been “germinating in the bowels of state capture”.
This is according to a statement by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, published on Friday, as communities in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal picked through the ashes and took stock of what they lost and what remained.
Violent riots cost the lives of more than 200 South Africans over the past week.
According to the foundation, the democratic dispensation failed to deliver on its promise of improving the socio-economic conditions of many South Africans.
The socio-economic crisis was deepened by the Covid-19 pandemic and the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma created “the perfect set to mount an offensive against the state and the constitutional democratic edifice on which it is built”, the foundation said.
The foundation was formed by Thabo Mbeki, SA’s second democratically elected president, after his resignation in 2008.
His resignation made way for Zuma to become the country’s third democratic president.
The foundation echoed the words of President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday when he said the unrest was a deliberate and co-ordinated attack on the country's democracy.
But it added that an “unprecedented avalanche of misinformation” was “well-orchestrated”.
“The unprecedented avalanche of misinformation is well orchestrated to ensure that when the embers die down, this nation will be confronted with a population that has lost all hope and is in despair,” read the statement.
“In many ways, pessimism will strike and the human dignity that we have all strived for will become but a fleeting dream,” said the foundation.
The foundation said the hallmarks of the state capture it referred to include the systematic denuding of state capacity witnessed at the revenue service and state-owned entities, and the weakening of all arms of law enforcement including intelligence agencies and the National Prosecuting Authority.
“The economic sabotage, wanton destruction of property and infrastructure we have witnessed cannot be accepted as incidental.”
The commission of inquiry into state capture has heard testimony from several witnesses describing corruption and abuse of power in state institutions during Zuma’s tenure.
Zuma’s refusal to testify at the commission in spite of a Constitutional Court order instructing him to do so led to him being found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment.
“We recall that the current situation was foreshadowed by open threats of civil war and unrest,” read the statement.
The foundation commended South Africans who stood in solidarity with people affected by the looting and violence.
It warned that urgent work needed to be done to improve socio-economic conditions for millions of the country’s poorest people.
“We call for calm, unity and vigilance at this trying time. We call upon all South Africans and all sectors of our society to refuse to be misled and fall victim to masters of the dark arts designed to exploit our challenges as a people.
“Most importantly, we call upon government and law enforcement agencies to spare no efforts to bring to book all those found to be behind this counterrevolutionary insurgency,” read the statement.
The foundation called on the government and social partners to urgently design and implement economic recovery plans consistent with the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan tabled by Ramaphosa last year.