Since its announcement earlier this year, the national shutdown that was planned by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has been on the national agenda. For weeks many were speculating that it will end in a blood bath, in fear of the ‘rebellious nature’ of the EFF IN conjunction with the police brutality that we have seen rising on a national scale since the 2022 July protest. By: Tlotliso May
This shutdown was covered by national news channels and the most interesting element is the ability it had to command our national government to also take a stance on the media and vow to not allow or succumb to lawlessness – as though to preempt that there would be an explicit plan to break the law by the Economic Freedom Fighters.
Why did the EFF initiative this Shutdown
The primary purpose of the shutdown was to force the national government to put an end to load shedding. This occurred at the same time when Eskom has been taken to court as a power utility in a bid to declare load shedding unlawful amidst countless scandals of mismanagement of South Africa’s power utility. The ancillary purpose of the demonstration was to call for the immediate stepping down of Cyril Ramaphosa as a South African president, despite being the president of the leading party. This was done through a planned demonstration throughout the country but the biggest attendance was seen in the biggest cities in South Africa and echoed throughout the country in the smaller corners where the Economic Freedom Fighters have influence.
Impact of the shutdown across sectors
In highly awaiting spirits, the shutdown commanded the national agenda and was in essence the talk of the town, drawing a lot of attention and in an antagonizing nature, forcing the national government to take drastic measures to prevent and contain the said national shutdown. The impact of the shutdown was also directed at private businesses as the leadership of the Economic Freedom Fighters informed businesses to be advised and not operate on the day because while their command of the march is that it be a peaceful march, they shall not be held responsible if things go out of hand. A lot of businesses took heed of the said warning and a lot of others refused to heed this call and operated as usual. The EFF also informed the nation that it has informed the biggest taxi association of their intention to protest and did not solicit any form of support as the organization remains apolitical and a lot of people speculated a war between protestors and the taxi industry as the taxi industry vowed to continue with business as usual on the day of the protest.
State response to the shutdown
The preparation of national security clusters on the eve of the national shutdown was of world-class proportions. We were all taken aback and the capacity we have and yet have never seen intervene in the rife cases of crime across the country. This left South Africans wondering because in a country where crime is so rampant, how such resources in dormancy when they are needed the most to service and protect the people of South Africa. The many boots on the ground that were promised and the police visibility around the country were to the shock of many South Africans who are constantly in danger of this or that crime to no avail of the South African Police Services.
The president had also informed parliament of the deployment of soldiers who would, according to an online statement make sure that there is peace and stability in the country and that the rights and the interest of all citizens are protected – which begs the question, is load shedding not a direct violation of our basic human rights, considering that amongst all, its effects are also unemployment because of the losses it costs companies that employ multitudes of our people. The biggest surprise was the fact that in such a sudden and swift nature, load shedding was suspended to the surprise of most South Africans as the purpose of the protest was to pressure Eskom into ending it.
The takeaway here is simple – There are resources in our country and for the government to act in a beneficial way towards its citizens, we ought to always rebel in one way or another!
About the Author: Tlotliso Innocent May is the founder of Changed Men, Change Men Foundation, a Free State-born 2017 Activator who is passionate about people and the alleviation of people from the dire conditions they find themselves in.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policies of The Daily Vox.