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Zim, SA Opposition Leaders Call For Restraint In SA Violence

Zimbabwe and South African opposition leaders yesterday made a clarion call to end the escalating violence and looting in South Africa which has left more than half a dozen people dead.

Disturbances intensified in South Africa over the weekend and on Monday as former President Jacob Zuma challenged his 15-month prison term in the country’s top court.

The judgment in the case has been reserved. However, the sporadic pro-Zuma protests that broke out when he handed himself over last week have escalated into looting and arson, mainly in KwaZulu-Natal but also in Gauteng Provinces.

Zimbabwe’s MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa described the events as “SAD and TRAGIC”

The opposition leader further stated that “The developments in South Africa remind us that PEACE is FRAGILE. We urge an urgent and peaceful resolution of the grievances of all the parties concerned!”

Another South Africa based Zimbabwean opposition leader, Herbert Chamuka of the Ideas Party of Democracy (IPD) urged the SADC, African Union and United Nations to intervene in the violence to calm down the situation.

He said foreigners and natives alike are living in fear of being attacked as the situation looks likely to escalate further.

“As a SADC member, I’m encouraging the African Union to intervene in the South African violence because buildings, malls, trucks are all burning down.

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“This violence will escalate into deadly violence and a lot of blood will be shed, unnecessarily. We are living in fear as foreigners and even the natives,” Chamuka said.

He feared that a lot of innocent lives will be lost if nothing is done.

“We don’t know how or when this will end but the sad fact is we are all living in fear.

“KwaZulu Natal, Gauteng Provinces are on the edge, something must be done. So SADC, UN and AU must engage President Cyril Ramaphosa immediately to avoid a bloodbath between law enforcement agencies and the people.

“As IPD, we encourage peace and for all parties involved to remain calm,” he further stated.

President Ramaphosa made a compassionate plea Monday night to protestors to remain peaceful as the violence was affecting the country’s fight against COVID-19 which is ravaging communities.

Early in the day, the South African National Defence Force deployed soldiers in KZN to quell the violence.

However, Ramaphosa’s remarks were met with widespread condemnation by the country’s opposition parties.

The Democratic Alliance (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.

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“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 Inkatha Freedom Party (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.

Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (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.

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Multi-award winning journalist/photojournalist with keen interests in politics, youth, child rights, women and development issues. Follow Lovejoy On Twitter @L_JayMut

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