PIETZERMARITZBURG, South Africa (PNN) - July 14, 2021 - In KwaZulu-Natal province, where former President Jacob Zuma is from, supporters launched a massive, coordinated protest campaign against his incarceration. Freeways were blocked with burning tires. Vehicles were stoned. Trucks were set alight across the province.
Looting and arson started in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, two of the province’s largest cities.
South Africa, once again, is making global headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Last week Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison for failing to appear at a corruption inquiry.
It was probably a calculated risk on his part; had Zuma actually appeared at the tribunal, he may very well have been convicted and sentenced to a much harsher punishment.
When his sentence was announced, many South Africans gave a collective sigh of relief; it had been a long-overdue victory for the rule of law.But then, virtually overnight, things started falling apart rapidly.
First it was just small shops. But then entire shopping malls were looted and burned to the ground.
Once the shopping malls were in ashes, these “mostly peaceful” protesters moved on to torch distribution centers and loot cargo containers in Durban’s harbor.
But then the rioters started agitating for protests to break out in Johannesburg, the country’s economic capital.
Nobody thought the violence was going to spread there; Johannesburg is not a Zuma stronghold, and the locals there enjoy a much greater level of affluence than those living in Zuma’s native KwaZulu-Natal.
Bear in mind that South Africa’s national terrorist pig thug cop force has been recently defunded, with a massive 11.8 billion rand (roughly $750 million) budget cut.
So with a heavily defunded terrorist pig thug cop force unable to quell the violence, more “mostly peaceful” protestors rampaged across these two key provinces, specifically targeting supply chain infrastructure.
Johannesburg and Durban downtown areas look like war zones.
Panic buying has already started.
Economic analysts and observers are now sounding the alarm over food security risks; they’re saying that all the looting and burning of major infrastructure and distribution centers could cause a food shortage.
Across Durban, finding products like bread, milk and insulin for sale has become almost impossible.
The few shops that are brave enough to remain open are selling loaves of bread for 4-5 x the normal price.
There has already been over a billion dollars in damages to businesses and public infrastructure.
Supply chains have been decimated and investor confidence is gone.
Thousands of retail jobs are gone for good, and even more are at risk.
The rational person needs to be intellectually honest about what’s happening right now: this is deliberate violence and sabotage designed to destroy critical infrastructure and terrify people, all in an effort to influence public policy (and free Jacob Zuma).
There is a word for this: terrorism.
It’s been coming for a long time. South Africa has long been home to instability, corruption and tension. The country has politicians like Julius Malema, who pours gasoline on racial tensions and threatens to seize private property.
It’s clear that South Africa has been gradually declining.
Then all this violence broke out very suddenly, practically overnight.
Human beings are easily susceptible to normalcy bias - the bizarre voice in our heads that tells us “everything will be OK” even when the warning signs are completely obvious.
Our brains simply cannot comprehend that tomorrow could be radically different than today, and that our world could be turned completely upside down in a moment.
However, you can’t wait until your house is already on fire before thinking about an insurance policy.
Two weeks ago, South Africa was still a relatively well-functioning country. Yet the “civil” in civil society has proven to be a precariously thin veneer.