The DA has taken legal and other action against EFF intimidation and threats of violence ahead of their so-called “National Shutdown” on Monday, 20 March. We object to the intimidatory tactics being employed by members of the EFF, who are threatening “consequences” for any business that dares to open and trade on the day, and for any adult or child who dares to go to work or school on that day.
It is unacceptable for the EFF to trample on the rights of others, to make their own demands heard. And even more objectionable at a time when people are suffering from multiple assaults to their lives and livelihoods, due to disastrous lockdowns, ongoing load shedding, spiralling cost of living, and runaway crime.
EFF social media posts and public statements suggest they are fully prepared to break the law in pursuit of their own agenda. Explicit threats of violence and acts of intimidation include:
- A picture on social media of the EFF Mpumalanga leader in full red EFF-branded clothing posing with a semi-automatic rifle, and a caption saying: “By all means necessary or possible we are ready @EFFSouthAfrica.”
- A video doing the rounds of EFF party members announcing the shutdown via a loudspeaker from the back of a bakkie, where the speaker is heard saying: “We are saying to you close down all your businesses to avoid the looting. Close down all your shops to avoid the looting. Close down all your factories to avoid the lootings. Close down everything; nothing will be operating on that day; we are avoiding the looting. So, we are saying to you, come and join the march, my brother; come and join the march, my sister.”
- Giving the Minister of Education seven days to close schools, saying that any child wearing a school uniform will be doing so at their own risk.
- Issuing a letter to the OR Tambo Airport authorities warning them not to allow any flights or business activity on the day.
- That the Leader of the EFF has stated in no uncertain terms that he and his organisation will not apply for any approval from municipal authorities, who are the regulating authorities assigned to enforce legislation regarding public demonstrations, gatherings and protest action. This shows that he and his party have no respect for the rule of law and no intention to abide by the regulations governing protest action.
The rule of law
The rule of law is an essential precondition for achieving the peaceful, prosperous society that South Africa should and could be. It encompasses the notions of equality before the law, and that no one can take the law into their own hands. In threatening violence and vandalism, the EFF is doing just this – taking the law into their own hands.
The EFF has every right to protest peacefully if it has applied for permission to do so. But it has no right at all to infringe on the rights of others. The DA has therefore taken steps to protect others’ rights to dissociate from the EFF and their cause, and their rights to go about their normal day on Monday, in peace.
- We are approaching the Court to ensure that the EFF complies with the conditions of permits issued by relevant Municipalities giving permission for peaceful protest.
- We are seeking a Court interdict to ensure that the EFF leadership formally retracts all intimidation letters that they have issued, such as the letter issued to OR Tambo Airport warning the airport authority not to allow any flights or business activity on the day.
- Our lawyers have drafted a template affidavit that can be used by any business owner who has been intimidated by any EFF representatives, to report such behaviour and press formal charge of intimidation against the leadership of the EFF and its local representatives who act on behalf of the EFF’s national leadership, and to request that the SAPS prevent, combat and investigate any violation of the legislation that regulates demonstrations, gatherings and events in South Africa. We call on all South Africans to stand with us against EFF thuggery.
- The DA has written to Police Minister Bheki Cele to highlight the imminent threat posed to the economy, public and private infrastructure, as well as to the safety of citizens. We have called on Minister Cele to issue a strong statement against the “National Shutdown” and assure South Africans that the SAPS and the entire security cluster is on standby to respond to violence.
- We have written to President Ramaphosa asking him to issue a stern pre-emptive warning that no violence, vandalism or intimidation will be tolerated, and that any such behaviour will meet the full force of the law.
- We have resolved to press charges against the EFF and hold them personally liable for any damage done to person, property, lives and livelihoods perpetrated during their so-called shutdown.
Apart from being illegal, it makes no sense to instigate a nationwide shutdown to protest load shedding. Shutting the economy down for a day will do nothing at all to solve this problem that has been decades in the making. On the contrary, it will only push South Africa deeper into chaos and poverty.
Where the DA governs
Where the DA governs it will be business as usual. Our Law Enforcement and Traffic Services personnel will work closely with SAPS to maintain law and order and to hold any acts of vandalism and violence to account. Those responsible for vandalism or violence will be arrested.
The DA is committed to creating an environment that is conducive to economic growth and job creation. Nothing could do more to bring safety, stability, prosperity, unity, and an end to load-shedding.
Powerful protest mechanism
There is no better place to bring about social change than at the ballot box. Voting for change is the most powerful protest mechanism. The 2024 general election is the best opportunity to reject the EFF’s politics of chaos and destruction and choose the DA’s commitment to the rule of law and a growing economy.