July 15, 2021

South Africa: Ramaphosa, Opposition Discuss Solutions to Unrest

South Africa’s presidency is considering deploying more soldiers to areas stricken by looting, violence and unrest.

Following the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma last week, protesters have been running amok in the provinces of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, causing unprecedented damage to property, looting shops, and disrupting supply chains.

To address this issue, opposition parties met with President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday, 14 July, via a virtual meeting.

Sources say that some leaders criticised Ramaphosa for only deploying 2 500 soldiers to assist law enforcement with the unrest, while more than 70 000 soldiers were deployed to enforce lockdown regulations.

One leader, John Steenhuisen of the Democratic Alliance, was more vocal about increasing the presence of military troops amid fears of food, fuel and medicine shortages.

Steenhuisen said: “This is essential because the food distribution networks have been looted and burnt. Hunger is going to inflame an already volatile situation.”

Calls for coordination among the police, the national defence force, and other security structures were also made by the opposition parties.

The presidency released a subsequent statement, saying that it noted the parties’ concerns and suggestions, and that the deployment of more soldiers is currently being addressed.

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