South African military on high alert ahead of EFF protest

Minister in the Presidency responsible for State Security and the GCIS Khumbudzo Ntshavheni
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JOHANNESBURG – The country’s security cluster said that it would stop at nothing to prevent a repeat of the July 2021 unrest as the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) gears up for a national shutdown.

Police Minister Bheki Cele was joined by Justice Minister Ronald Lamola and Defence Minister Thandi Modise at a post-Cabinet media briefing in Pretoria on Thursday where they all assured South Africans that the cluster was fully prepared and well capacitated to handle Monday’s planned protest.

The EFF wants President Cyril Ramaphosa out of office amid a myraid of socio-economic issues, including the crippling power cuts and rising cost of living.

The country’s security and intelligence structures are expected to meet before the weekend to discuss their response to the EFF’s national shutdown.

While the EFF’s calls for businesses, schools and ports of entry to be closed appear not to have garnered resounding support from civil society, political parties, taxi associations and the freight industry, the party said that it would not abandon its plans.

Government has denied running blind as the EFF refuses to divulge details about the protest.

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni: “The intelligence service is at work.”

Ntshavheni added that the security cluster was better equipped following the July unrest that left more than 350 people dead and a trail of economic destruction in its wake.

“The coordination is 500% improved.”

Government has assured South Africans that there would be high police visibility.

The country’s security cluster has warned the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) against inciting violence when it embarks on its planned national shutdown on Monday.

The EFF wants government to respond to a range of service delivery issues, including the unstable electricity supply.

While there is mostly opposition by civil society and non-profit organisations to the march, somehave also backed the EFF’s call for President Cyril Ramaphosa to step down.

But government said it won’t tolerate violence on the day.

“Let any boy try and stop me and he will meet his maker. When he leaves in the morning, he must kiss his mother goodbye.”

That was the bold statement made by EFF leader Julius Malema at a media briefing on Wednesday, in the build-up to the national shutdown.

On Thursday, Police Minister Bheki Cele downplayed the calls, saying that as government, they would not be threatened.

“The 20th of March will be a normal business day,” said Cele at a post-Cabinet media briefing in Pretoria.

Cele was joined by Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, and Defence Minister Thandi Modise, who all assured South Africans that the cluster was fully prepared and well-capacitated to handle the situation.

They also vowed to be heavy-handed in their response to threats against the country’s national security.

And while the exact details of the shutdown remain unknown, the EFF has rallied businesses, taxi associations, and the freight industry to down tools to pile pressure on government to respond to the country’s socio-economic issues.