“Every Nation Writes Its Own Autobiography Through the Actions or Inactions of Its Citizens”
There are 15 political parties represented in South Africa. The Minority Front is an Indian-led party in the KwaZulu-Natal(KZN)Legislature. Recently, various events led to parts of South Africa being engulfed by catastrophic violence, over 7 days. Some key disaster statistics were; a 337 death toll, of which about7wereIndians. In Phoenix alone,36 people were killed and three were Indians. Destruction took the forms of looting and arson of businesses, homes, religious sites and some sugar-cane farms. Government buildings included schools and hospitals. The probable causes point to an attempted insurrection, incarceration oft he former president Jacob Zuma, the Zondo Commission’s final report on corruption, passage of key bills, ‘economic sabotage’ and a likely ‘third force’. In terms of law enforcement the police were poorly equipped and overpowered, whilst the South African Defense Force(SANDF)was deployed too late. There’s an uncertain calm still as events post violence are sinking in. Specifically, the probable reasons for the Phoenix violence are; an alternate strategy of distraction from the failed insurrection, criminality and in-fighting between the ruling political party factions. The reasons for other deaths arose due to community barricades, stampedes, entrapment in burning buildings and criminality. Given the massive damages police are on high alert and the SANDF is stationed in hotspot areas. What needs noting are the huge losses incurred, which includes businesses, properties and stock worth R50 Billion (Cost to Country); R20 Billion in KZN and R 3.5 Billion in Gauteng; loss of 337 lives and 105 000 job losses.
The current status is marked by ongoing efforts to bring back normalcy. The communities have united to clean up areas. With respect to Phoenix: both the Minister of Safety and Security and Hon. president Ramaphosa have stated that, “Indians are not racist”. A Phoenix Peace Committee has been setup, whilst 12 Indians have been charged for different offences. Three marches have taken place by the eThekwini Community Church, EFF and African United Activists. Religious interfaith dialogues and a soccer match also took place to foster social cohesion amongst communities. Although calm is setting in, generally there is an underlying anxiety due to ongoing threats communities face. There is a planned #BringSAToItsKnees and #RamaphosaShutDown campaign targeted for Monday, 23rdAugust 2021. In hindsight this insidious violence is reminiscent of recurrent pre-poll political violence since the Local Government Elections take place on 27thOctober 2021, as well as the presidential incumbency race with the ANC Elective Conference coming upin2022.Furthermore, in terms of arrests by National agencies,12 masterminds were identified with three charged. Another 26persons are being investigated by the HAWKS unit. It is worrisome that further unrest is expected. As a way forward, the Minority Front has requested, in the KZN Legislature the following: all videos and audio clips which incited violence via social media to be examined; monthly investigation progress reports on the “Chaos Causing Toolkit” and recovery of stolen ammunition (> 1.5 million live ammunition rounds);social cohesion and moral regeneration programmes investment to build trust, harmony and peace. Other important aspects to consider are, strengthening non-governmental organizations, community policing forums and faith-based organizations. Data collection along linguistic and ethnic lines for the minority Indian community and the establishment of a Minorities Commission in South Africa. These will assist in advancing minority rights and needs in a quantifiable and justifiable way.
In conclusion, this violence reminds us all of the critical nature of human identity, economic class, ethnicity and the politics thereof, summed up by two important motivations: ‘Those who ignore ethnicity, do so at their own peril’-Nelson Mandela and to always remember, Minority rights are human rights- UN Declaration.
Hon. Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi
Leader of the Minority Front
MPL-KZN Legislature(South Africa)