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Mbalula on 'free Zuma anarchy': 'You can still demand his release without condoning barbarism'

02 August 2021 - 12:45 By unathi nkanjeni
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has weighed in on calls to free Jacob Zuma. File photo.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has weighed in on calls to free Jacob Zuma. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has slammed “free Jacob Zuma anarchy”, saying the former president's supporters could demand his release without condoning barbarism, ethnic mobilisation, torching and looting.

Rioting broke out in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng last month, after the imprisonment of Zuma. He is serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court at the Estcourt Correctional Centre in KZN. He was handed the sentence by the Constitutional Court after failing to appear at the state capture inquiry.

The violent unrest caused damage to property and livelihoods in both provinces. It also had a huge impact on events that took place in and around Phoenix, in eThekwini, in which scores were killed.

In a lengthy social media post, Mbalula said the anarchy disguised itself as a political protest and produced vigilantism and barbarism “of the worst kind”. 

Mbalula said the anarchy's alleged “people's revolt” tendencies were backward.

He said the vigilantism at Phoenix must be condemned and criminal elements perpetuating the callous acts must be arrested and brought to book.

“In the same vein, we can't tolerate racial polarisation of our society in the name of the ANC,” said Mbalula. 

“You can still demand 'free Jacob Zuma' without condoning barbarism, ethnic mobilisation, torching and looting of businesses which led to vigilantism at Phoenix that has flared racial tensions amongst our people.

“For anyone who calls themselves leadership to use this backward tendency to mobilise our people to amount to the political bankruptcy of the worst order and calling yourself an ANC member, ANC stands for none of these backward tendencies.”

It is the demagogues who stand to gain from unguided militancy.
Fikile Mbalula

He cautioned against populism and fascism.

“If we were populist, this country would have implemented a fascist programme of action, eg: death penalty, attacking fellow Africans and justify it as a revolutionary programme. [Former Nazi party leader Adolf] Hitler became popular with the Nazi ideology by killing,” he said. 

Mbalula said populism was temporary, saying it was like a hit song that dissipates over time.

“We must not kill the militancy of the youth. Their militancy must be properly grounded in congress movement traditions, otherwise they will confuse their unguided militancy as a serious revolution. It is the demagogues who stand to gain from unguided militancy.

“We must allow young people to be themselves, 'young and restless', but with proper political grounding,” he said. 

Attempts to get further comment from Mbalula were unsuccessful at the time of publishing this story. Comment will be included once received.

This is not the first time Mbalula has called for peace amid protests linked to the incarceration of Zuma.

Earlier last month, Mbalula shared a clip of Zuma’s 2009 Al Jazeera interview in which he can be heard discussing his ongoing corruption case and the rule of law.

Speaking to Sir David Frost, Zuma, who was a presidential candidate at the time, said no president was above the law.

Mbalula said Zuma “affirmed the rule of law in line with the values, positions and resolutions of the ANC.

“We remain a constitutional democracy,” he said.

Reacting to Mbalula's recent post, many expressed opinions on the matter. 

Here is a snapshot of what they had to say: