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Friday, August 10, 2012

South Africa’s Ring of Fire

South Africa's Ring of Fire

It was the COSATU Secretary General, arch Communist, and con man Zwelinzima Vavi, who described South Africa’s increasing rate of public protest as a "Ring of Fire" closing in on major cities that could result in a Tunisia style revolution. He also sent a warning to his own comrades in the ANC, saying the party needed to get its house in order or face a revolt similar to the 1976 riots against Bantu education.

Now that the country is burning far worse than it was during the 1976 riots, I believe it is logical to assume that Vavi’s words were in fact a threat -- (or maybe he was just bragging). Did he not also refer to the jobless youth as a “ticking time bomb” or words to that effect? 

The 1976 riots in South Africa caused worldwide outrage and brought down international condemnation on the Apartheid government. One specific image, namely a black & white photograph of Hector Pieterson's dead body, was circulated all over the planet and shocked millions of viewers. Today, while various parts of South Africa burn in a ring of fire, in vivid colour, the international community have gone ominously silent. Right now I suppose the vast majority have their eyes focused on the 2012 London Olympics, but tomorrow there will be some other excuse for ignoring South Africa’s current predicament.

According to Professor Peter Alexander, Director of the Centre for Sociological Research:
"As many commentators and activists now accept, service delivery protests are part of a broader Rebellion of the Poor. This rebellion is massive. I have not yet found any other country where there is a similar level of ongoing urban unrest. South Africa can reasonably be described as the ‘protest capital of the world’."
Alexander, Peter, 2010: 'Rebellion of the poor: South Africa's service delivery protests - a preliminary analysis,' Review of African Political Economy 37(123). Pages 25-40.

During the 2004/05 financial year about 6,000 protests were officially recorded - an unknown number of protests went unrecorded. This meant that at least 15 protests were taking place each day in South Africa at this time. However the number of protests has escalated dramatically since then.  These protests are usually referred to as service delivery protests in the media but although there is evidence of growing unhappiness with service delivery most analysts argue that this description is overly narrow and misleading. – Source

The South African Police do not refer to these protests as riots anymore, even when they turn violent. Instead they use the politically correct terminology, “Crowd Management Incidents”.

The table below provides the yearly stats for these ‘incidents’.

Crowd Management Incidents - South Africa
* For 2011/12 the figures are for the period 1 April 2011 to 5 March 2012.

Where it will end for the year 2012?

Graph - Crowd Management Incidents - South Africa

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