South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) on Thursday seemingly condemned threats by its youth league that it would be armed with sjamboks to confront those who take to the streets on Friday to put more pressure on Zuma to quit or be recalled.
In a statement, the ruling party said the Constitution guaranteed citizens the right to protest freely, but that this should be done in a peaceful manner.
“The ANC is concerned at reports of sporadic violence and intimidation in the run-up to the planned so-called ‘day of action’ on the 7th of April. Such actions have no place in democratic South Africa and threaten to turn the country back to a time where civic activism by citizens was stifled in the name of ‘preserving law and order’,” the statement said.
“In the same vein, the ANC distances itself from and has not organized any marches to its Headquarters, Chief Albert Luthuli House, whether in protest or in defence of the African National Congress. We condemn in the harshest possible terms reports of people seeking to take up arms in the name of the ANC. Such behavior has no place in a democratic society.”
On Tuesday night, at an ANC Youth League (ANCYL) rally in Germiston, in support of President Jacob Zuma, various speakers threatened violence against those who march for his removal on Friday. During that gathering, ANCYL executive member, Sifiso Mtsweni, said they would be waiting for the marchers with sjamboks and other weapons.
“As the planned day of protests approaches, the ANC calls on all South Africans to organize in a calm and measured fashion. We should not allow inflammatory rhetoric from certain elements, including on social media, to damage our fragile social fabric and turn South Africans against each other.”