Like many South Africans, I was shocked by the events of the SONA 2015 on Thursday night. However I cannot say I was a bit surprised as that was building up for a long time already.
One needs to pay attention to all events of the day preceding the fracas inside the assembly to understand what I am talking about. I am no expert in the issues of security and parliamentary laws. However one can make a comment based on the observations on the events that led to the charged emotions.
We firstly need to note
-Zuma refuses to attend parliament as demanded and refuses to answer the questions of when he is paying back the money,
-On SONA day, there is an increased number of riot police that have seen outside parliament and armed to the teeth to fight a riot,
-then inside parliament we noticed the increased number of private security members in plain clothing which cannot be attributed to the police service though a link to them is made,
-Lastly, we have signal jammers installed in parliament to prevent the sharing and transmission of information.
Just before the start of the SONA, the riot police clashes with the protestors of EFF and DA who were at no stage a threat to the proceedings of the day. The protestors were dosed with water cannon and panic ensued. This results in the arrest of a number of people including the DA’s Spokesperson, Marius Redelinghuys.
On Friday morning after the SONA 2015, on Tim Modise’s Power Breakfast on PowerFm, the Minister in the Presidency promoted the talks by the ANCYL who are awaiting the go ahead from the President of the ANC to carry out attack on the EFF by whatever force possible.
On Saturday morning there were reports that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, called the EFF and Julius Malema cockroaches. She said this at the ANC’s North West provincial congress where she urged the ANC members to be prepared for a fight and destroy the EFF.
The comments by Speaker Baleka have sent some chill down my spine as I recollect the images I saw on TV the genocide in Rwanda were people were killed after being labeled cockroaches. The leaders of Hutus would incite violence by coming on radio and say ‘You have to kill the Tutsis, they are cockroaches.’ It is unfathomable how the Speaker, the person who is tasked in upholding the rules of parliament and cohesion in the National Assembly, can go on publicly and condone the attack of the opposition.
The pictures of the Thursday bring about the images of apartheid where political parties that opposed the government of the time were banned and its leaders arrested, beaten and some killed. Jacob Zuma, his ministers and the state have seemed to have effectively used the police, security institutions and the policemen and women of this country to shut down any conflicting views.
Some known examples of police brutality:
-April 2011, seven Policemen were caught on TV beating and later shooting Andries Tatane in the chest with rubber bullets in the chest during a service delivery protest in Ficksburg, against the government of the ANC. The seven policemen were acquitted of all charges.
-In August 2012, Ramaphosa sent an email to the Minister of Police and ordered him to take ‘concomitant action’ against the Marikana’s Lonmin workers and the police actions resulted in 34 deaths of the striking workers.
-December 2012, the Tactical Response Team shot a woman in the face during a protest in Wesselton in Mpumalanga. The TRT has been used in the province as personal security guards for officials and ANC leaders.
The disturbance during the SONA was well prepared to ensure that whatever the opposition brings, request or raise shall not be tolerated and if they persist they shall be dealt the harshest prepared punishment. From the well-orchestrated response to the question of privilege from EFF’s MP, Godrich Gardee in which the Speaker read a carefully written response from the pile of papers in front of her. Evidence showed that the ANC and its leaders were well prepared for the EFF and they wanted to deal with them the harshest of ways. The sad part was that they used illegal tactics to bully the opposition parties.
The public order police seemed very excited to enter the chambers to carry out the instructions as given by the speaker and deal the heavy blow to the EFF while our elected President sat there laughing as the police manhandled the lawmakers of the country.
The questions that I keep asking myself are: at what cost is the ANC going to keep Zuma in power? To what levels of corruption, maladministration, abuse of state power will the ANC descend to in order to protect one individual from be accountable? Are we going to descend to the levels of Fulgencio Batista of Cuba by using everything in the country to shut down the opposition? Are we as the citizens of this country waiting for the murder of journalist, the complete shutdown and blackout of the media, as Zuma has numerously suggested, before realizing that the country is in a state of anarchy?
Zuma and the ANC leaders have become dictators hell-bent to destroying any freedom that we have in the country.
South Africa and the citizens of the country cannot afford to return to the days of apartheid. Maybe apartheid did not actually end but actually changed regents as this government continues to oppress its own.
Article by Bongani Mahlangu