- Political parties were not impressed with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on Monday night.
- The president addressed South Africans, following riots and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
- Opposition parties said the president did not offer any plan.
Political parties have criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa after he addressed the nation on Monday night on continued riots, lawlessness and looting in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
The unrest was driven by some of former president Jacob Zuma’s sympathisers, who have been calling for his release from the Estcourt Correctional Centre. He was taken into custody last week after the Constitutional Court sentenced him to 15 months behind bars for failing to abide by an order to give evidence before the Zondo Commission.
Private armed security officers take position during a joint operation with undercover and uniformed South Africa Police Service (SAPS) members in Jeppestown.
The DA said “very little in [Ramaphosa’s] address offered anything new … in terms of measures to curb the violence, looting and destruction of property”.
“In short, it was clear that the president and his government have no real plan and that citizens will have to face the mobs of rioters and looters entirely on their own,” DA leader John Steenhuisen said.
“Our country is literally burning, many South Africans have lost everything they had to the looters, and thousands of jobs have been laid to waste. We needed a strong statement of action tonight but instead, we simply got more of the platitudes that this Presidency has become known for”.
The DA claimed the violence had escalated because law enforcement agencies had “failed to take control early on”.
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“Of critical importance right now is that law enforcement regains control of the situation, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, but also elsewhere in South Africa. They need to do the job that the Constitution demands of them,” Steenhuisen said.
“Particular focus should also be given to the protection of healthcare facilities and the supply of oxygen to Covid wards in violence-affected areas. As the country battles the third wave of a deadly pandemic, it is critical that we continue to take care of the sick and the vulnerable.”
The IFP added to the sentiment and said the president had not gone “far enough to reassure South Africans that the government he leads can rescue South Africa from the brink of an abyss”.
“What the address lacked was a clear plan,” the party said in a statement.
“As the president spoke, criminals continued to loot a blood bank on live TV, underscoring the extent of the anarchy we face.”
The EFF condemned the deployment of the defence force, saying the government should first exhaust political interventions.
“A government that deploys the army against its own people has essentially conceded that it is no longer a government of the people,” the EFF said in a statement.
“Ramaphosa is clearly out of depth and is determined to lead a nation of people behind a television screen. His continued appearances on television are ineffective, fruitless and do not serve as an assurance for the nation.”
Commenting for the Freedom Front Plus, Dr Pieter Groenewald described the president as someone who showed “an apparent indifferent attitude towards the unrest”.
“It raises questions about the government’s ability and political will to defuse the volatile situation in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng before it spills over to the rest of the country. Swift and decisive action is needed to prevent it from spreading,” he said.
“The FF Plus finds it extremely disappointing that the president offered reasons, such as unemployment and poverty, as plausible excuses for the extensive looting.”