Dozens of people have been killed in violent protests and looting since former South African President Jacob Zuma was sentenced to life in prison by the country’s Constitutional Court.
The more the government fails to enforce the law, the more likely it is that democratic institutions will not be able to stand it, and the more violent demonstrations and looting will occur. South Africa with a population of 60 million is a landmark country for South-East-West Africa.
by Thanos S. Chonthrogiannis
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South Africa has the potential to overcome this challenge as its Constitution is one of the most liberal in the world and its Constitutional Court is the guarantor of democracy.
The fact that institutions such as a strong central government, the establishment of credible and progressive institutions have managed to transform the country from a country of racial discrimination to a democracy free of violence, is a guarantee that South Africa can overcome this challenge.
President Zuma’s political allies encouraged the violent protests when he was forced to report to the police station on July 7 to serve his 15-month sentence.
To date, 117 people have been killed, about 200 malls looted and roads and railways closed for days. As of Wednesday, July 14, 25,000 soldiers have been coordinating with police forces to restore order.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised that those responsible will be punished. Seeing that the situation could lead to a conflict after the country first loses control, the President chooses to clash with the African National Congress (ANC) and its electoral power.
The people do not forget that the ANC led by Nelson Mandela led the struggle for freedom from the apartheid regime.
The “special” relationship between the party and the citizens led the country to this dangerous point. Given the voters’ assessment of the ANC, the governments did nothing to stop the looting of shops and any violent demonstrations in order not to upset the voters, resulting in a sense of impunity for these behaviors.
The difficult task of the government is to impose order everywhere. The former President must serve his sentence, so that the citizens are convinced that the law applies to everyone without exception.
The solution now is to fully control the demagogy so as not to trigger uncontrollable situations.