South African uprising

Black students demonstrate in protest against having to use Afrikaans language at school, in Soweto, in August 1976. After violent clashes in Soweto in June 1976, UN Security Council condemned South African government because of its apartheid policy and the repression of the Black protests in Soweto that caused hundreds of deaths and thousands of injured people.

There is a drastic and rapid change in the political arena and landscape in South Africa. The current regime is facing opposition from all the opposition parties, members from its own party and largely from the frustrated and patriotic citizens of this beautiful country. There are clearly noticeable divisions in the tripartite alliance between the African National Congress (ANC), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

The SONA (State of the Nation Address) on 9 February 2017 was a true and honest reflection of the feelings and sentiments towards the current regime especially the current president Mr. Jacob Zuma. The president could not deliver his SONA without any interruptions and parliament was a physical battleground which was absolutely disgusting and unacceptable. Previous addresses by the president in parliament were also met with interruptions and hostility and he was also booed at many other events and functions.

May Day (often referred to as International Worker’s Day or Labour Day) is celebrated by labourers and the working classes throughout many countries in the world, including South Africa. This is an important event in South Africa and this day symbolizes the demands of the workers and cooperation and collaboration of the workers around the work – workers unite for a common purpose. At this year’s May Day rally in Bloemfontein which is Cosatu’s main Worker’s Day rally, the president was booed by the overwhelming attendees in the stadium and the rally had to be cancelled. There were overwhelming chants, heckling and calls from the crowds for Zuma to go. This would have been without any doubt the absolute worst embarrassment and unpleasantness that the president had to confront since taking on the reigns of the president from Thabo Mbeki (previous president). Other prominent ANC speakers were also booed at other rallies and events around the country.


In April this year, several marches were held throughout the country regarding the Zuma Must Fall campaign. Citizens from all walks of life participated in these events – the employed and unemployed, the rich and the poor, different races and religions, etc. It was one of the largest gatherings in the country for one common purpose and cause. A very powerful message was sent to the current regime regarding Zuma must go, the ruling party as a whole and the status quo of the government. It also demonstrated and emphasized the lack of leadership by the number one citizen of the country – the president.

Is South Africa on the brink of an uprising?

From the year 2000 to date, there were about 97 uprisings (revolutions / rebellions) in the world of which about 30 occurred in Africa – about one-third of the uprisings and this is not new to the African continent. The African continent has been plagued by uprisings for a very long time and this trend still continues and exists today. It is evident that there are many examples of uprisings in the world but let’s briefly study the uprisings that occurred recently in the year 2010 and 2011 which included a few North African countries. This real example is more relevant to the South African political situation as it displays a major shift from the traditional politics that were or are in practice.

Arab Spring

Arab Spring was the democratic uprisings that originated in Tunisia in December 2010 and spread across the Arab world in 2011 like wild fire out of control. A revolutionary wave of both violent and non-violent demonstrations, protests, riots, coups and civil wars quickly took hold in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. The primary request was for leaders to step down and a more democratic political system and a brighter economic future for the country and its loyal citizens.

Numerous factors led to the protests, including issues such as dictatorship or absolute monarchy, human rights violations, political corruption, economic decline, unemployment, extreme poverty, and a number of demographic structural factors, such as a large percentage of educated but dissatisfied youth within the entire population. It also included the concentration of wealth in the hands of autocrats in power for decades, insufficient transparency of its redistribution, corruption, and especially the refusal of the youth to accept the status quo.

The series of revolutions that marked the Arab world toppled dictators and transformed the map of the region, inspiring hope for permanent change in the Middle East. Yet five years on Tunisia is regarded as the lone success story of the Arab revolts. Tunisia has settled but there is still major fightings taking place in many of the areas in the region.

Most of the factors and issues that caused the Arab Spring are all too familiar to all South African citizens. We experience them daily – watch them on television, read and hear about them. There isn’t a day that passes by that is free of the above events.

Is South Africa on the brink of an uprising?

A comparative analysis of the factors that led to the Arab Spring and the South African citizen’s dissatisfactions results in many similarities, as follows:

  • Dictatorship – one party rule over a lengthy period leads to dictatorship (it is not healthy for one party to rule for more than two or three terms in government)
  • Political corruption
  • Economic decline
  • Unemployment
  • Extreme poverty
  • Dissatisfied youth
  • Concentration of wealth in the hands of the minority (includes gravy train)
  • Etc.

Is South Africa on the brink of an uprising?

Can an uprising occur in South Africa? Never say never. The citizens are extremely dissatisfied with the current president and the current regime, there are regular protests and strikes throughout the country, some parts of the country is burning, government and municipal services have reached an ultimate low or does not exist in many places – lack of service delivery,  unemployment and poverty is on the increase, etc.. These are the flaming and glowing warning signs and red flags that should not be ignored but serious consideration must be given to them. There is no timing or advance warning or permission that is required for an uprising to occur. No laws, courts or juries may grant interdicts (court orders) or make determinations or findings. The South African weather is more predictable than an uprising. An uprising is like a balloon that is being inflated. Different balloons can be inflated to different degrees and irrespective of their size or colour, balloons reach their individual inflation limits at different times. An uprising is a collection of all these balloons that starts bursting simultaneously or one after the other.  The Arab Spring and the entire world witnessed this with goggled-eyes and many of those regimes had the large majority but were overthrown.  Never say never.

Is there hope for this beautiful South Africa?

It is always prudent and wise to have a positive and constructive attitude and approach, and address the issues at hand rather than pursue a negative route with no success or alternatives. In order to rescue the economy, citizens and the country, the first of many evils – the prime evil President Jacob Zuma must resign or be recalled. Getting rid of the president will not overnight solve all of South Africa’s problems. All the president’s men (cronies or buddies) must be relieved of their positions or duties in government and the parastatals. The South African constitution is the supreme law of the state and it must be revered and adhered to strictly.  There must be a huge shift in thinking and policy making in line with the constitution of the land.  There must be proper and strict disciplinary action taken against any offenders and those who pursue major and organized cover-ups. Those individuals must be blacklisted and should not be allowed to take any future positions in government, municipalities or government parastatals. All the interests, concerns and demands of the citizens of South Africa (black and white) and the country must be considered first before anything else. This is the right thing to do and the correct route to follow.

I would conclude with a quotation that was made in the October 2011 speech by the famous and all powerful archbishop who is not afraid to speak out his mind and bravely challenged the past and current regimes – Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu:

“Let the ANC know they have a large majority. Well, Mubarak had a large majority, Gaddafi had a large majority. I am warning you: watch out. Watch out.”