Tensions are building as South Africans are again gathering to protest against government and once again, the government isn’t having any of it.
On Monday night, Donald Liphoko, the acting government communication and information system director-general and official government spokesperson, issued a strongly worded statement, warning South Africans against protesting illegally on Friday.
“We have noted social media messages, which call for a shutdown of the country on Friday. The call made in these messages can have unexpected consequences, especially for our fragile economy, business and communities,” Liphoko said.
“Whilst the public has a democratic right to embark on protest action, government does not support acts of civil disobedience and the actions of a select few to infringe on the constitutional rights of the majority.
“When citizens take to the streets illegally, we often witness violence, destruction of property and lawlessness. These illegal protests do not possess the characteristics of strengthening democracy. Those found guilty of any form of violence will face the might of the law.”
Save South Africa spokesperson Lawson Naidoo responded firmly to what many have called veiled threats.
“We will not be intimidated by government,” said Naidoo.
“We are absolutely determined to go ahead. It is government treading on the constitution, not us.
“It’s a cause for major concern in an open and democratic society that government is seeking to negate the right to protest.
“They are making all sorts of assumptions. All the processes that have taken place have been absolutely peaceful and disciplined.
“This is an absolute overreaction by the state and the state is looking for a fight.”
The country has been in turmoil since President Jacob Zuma’s April 1 Cabinet reshuffle, which resulted in Pravin Gordhan’s sacking as finance minister.