The Reason Behind the Riots in South Africa

The Reason Behind the Riots in South Africa (FourOaks/Getty Images)

Plainfield, NJSouth Africa’s Leadership History

South Africa has a strong history of hosting hostility and apprehension-- mainly because of racism (that is still present) from colonialism. To challenge policies and systems of segregation in South Africa, the anti-apartheid movement was birthed. The movement, led by Nelson Mandela who eventually became South Africa’s President, instilled hope in the leadership and systems of the region thereafter. Unfortunately, the purity of the leadership was not upheld during the reign of Jacob Zuma. The legal repercussions he is now facing are what is partly responsible for the riots currently happening in South Africa. 

Who is Jacob Zuma? 

Jacob Zuma was the President of South Africa from 2009- 2018. In 2018 he faced pressure to resign due to government corruption. In February of 2020, he was issued an arrest warrant for failure to appear in court. He was accused of receiving bribes from his former financial advisor. In 2016, Zuma was forced to pay back millions in state money that he used for his personal home. Zuma also allegedly allowed the Gupta’s (a family trio), to use their connection to the president to build wealth and accrue political power. The legacy of his reign is scandals, crime, and exploitation. 

Why the Riots?

On early Thursday, July 8th, Jacob Zuma was arrested for a 15-month prison term for contempt because he repeatedly defied a court order for him to testify. In response to his imprisonment, a group of loyalists to former President Jacob Zuma are being held responsible for the looting. Their alleged goal was to weaken and undermine the current President, Cyril Ramaphosa’s government, who is Zuma’s successor. The loyalists are called RET Factor and are most likely sympathetic to the former president because they were beneficiaries of his reign and do not like the positive attention Ramaphosa is receiving for restoring the government. The current President stated, “These actions are intended to cripple the economy, cause social instability and severely weaken — or even dislodge — the democratic state.” The looting has gotten so bad that 25,000 extra troops are being requested for 3 months. This is the largest deployment since the end of the apartheid. Malls and warehouses have been rampaged in several cities & provinces including KwaZulu-Natal, Johannesburg, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, and Northern Cape. Over 200 people have been left dead. 

There Is More to Blame than Jacob Zuma 

South Africa has been dealing with economic and social turmoil for a while. The indictment of Former President Zuma was just the tick needed for the bomb to explode. Unemployment of youth was already at an all-time high before the pandemic and hunger statistics are currently rising. Inequalities with the rich living feet away from the poor have triggered a reminder of pre apartheid times. All of these factors have made South Africa a ticking time bomb for an outbreak to occur. The government just was not prepared for an outbreak of this magnitude. Small businesses that were responsible for employing the locals are now completely ruined and the majority do not have insurance. There is an extreme restoration that President Ramaphosa and his team are responsible for delivering to the residents of South Africa. 

How Can I help? 

The following organizations have been deemed credible to donate to:

  1. Gift of Givers Foundation 
  2. Aryan Benevolent Home
  3. Meals in a Box SA

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