The EFF National Shutdown explained

By Tshegofatso Makola

Today is set to be the ever-so important day, where the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and its supporters will raise their concerns on the current state of the nation, with many set to take the streets in what has now coined the term 'National Shutdown'.

With many other political parties, ordinary civilians and Ministers in the security cluster having expressed condemnation for the events that they expect to transpire today, many have even alluded to possible violence and deja-vu of the 2021 July Unrest.

Why is the Shutdown taking place?

EFF leader Julius Malema at the SONA. PC: TimesLive

Following months since the Phala Phala saga emerged, the EFF has been among the few parties and individuals who have shared the view that President Cyril Ramaphosa should be removed or resign as President of the country.

With the failed attempt at removing Ramaphosa through a secret ballot last year, in the National Assembly, the EFF sought to take matters into their own hands, even storming the stage where President Cyril Ramaphosa was seated during his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The party then called for a National Shutdown to protest against the country's energy crisis, as well as for Ramaphosa to step down. This is as the party claims that he is to blame for South Africa's economic issues among others and has failed to adequately address them or to appoint the right Ministers.

The National Shutdown: "It's a protest, not a march"

Julius Malema briefing the media ahead of the National Shutdown. PC: TimesLive

With days leading up to the Shutdown, more rumours began to emerge of possible violence amid very little insight on how the shutdown would take place, which sparked EFF Commander in Chief, Julius Malema to clear the air.

READ MORE:"The DA has taken a decision to protect Ramaphosa"- EFF leader Julius Malema

In a media briefing held on 15 March 2023, Malema expressed that members of the public and EFF would gather in different parts of the country, with no set origin point or end, adding that it was a protest and not a march.

Malema further clapped back at those who were criticising the Shutdown, emphasising that there would be no violence adding that the responsibility to maintain law and order in society lies with law enforcement.

National Security Cluster's Preparation leading up to the Shutdown

Over the past week, officials have been hard at work in preparation for today's planned Shutdown, with the President of the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa issuing a warning condemning any anarchy and expressing that such action would be dealt with accordingly.

Meanwhile, Ministers in the security cluster met on several occasions to discuss the plan of action for what has been described as a bid to prevent the events of the 2021 July Unrest taking place once again. 

With over 3 500 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) being deployed until next month to deal with the National Shutdown and the sight-visits to see whether Police Stations in Gauteng were prepared for today, the Presidency emphasised that the security cluster's attempts to ensure safety, were not exaggerated, adding that every precaution had been taken to ensure that the protest was safe for everyone.

Additional attempts to halt the Shutdown

VID-20230315-WA0080_002.mp4 6.93 MB

Apart from the criticism from opposition parties, Soweto's very own vigilante-leader, Nhlanhla "Lux" Dlamini has vowed to arrest Malema himself, if the protest does not follow the law, adding that the law is there for everyone to follow.

"As for 20 March, My message is very clear. Julius and his people will be arrested if they don’t work within the boundaries of the law. This is South Africa, and we are not going to choose who must follow the law and who must not"- Nhlanha "Lux" Dlamini

Meanwhile, Dlamini reiterated his plans to protect Soweto from any damage and looting on the day.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has showcased themselves in the Courts again last week, with the party attempting to interdict the Shutdown and to have it declared as unlawful.

On Friday, the Western Cape High Court granted the interdict against the any attempts of participants to incite or engage in violence, intimidation, vandalism and the disruption of everyday activity including schooling and the economy.

The following day, the same was granted for the other eight provinces by the Johannesburg High Court, however, the protest could not be declared as unlawful.

What has happened so far?

The EFF's National Shutdown was officially set to commence at midnight, 20 March 2023. With many having taken to the streets ahead of the time to begin preparing, in Braamfontein, students gathered in the late hours of 19 March 2023, in what has since been decribed by the EFF as a "peaceful protest".

The students were dispersed with teargas upon the arrival of the police, with some students even being arrested and held overnight.

Detailed visuals that are circulating over social-media, show students being manhandled by police officials, whilst some officials can be heard instructing others to shoot.

The students were released this morning, and it is still unclear at this stage whether any of them have been charged.

Some of the arrested students who were released this morning. PC: EFF Twitter

Meanwhile, Operation Dudula's Nhlanhla "Lux" Dlamini has alleged that at least two petrol bombs were thrown at his house in the early hours of this morning.

According to him, he received calls at around 4am from the neighbourhood, alerting him of bombs and gunshots going off.

"I received calls from people inside my house saying ‘We don’t know what to do. A bomb hit the roof and there was a second explosion in the yard’.”-Nhlanhla "Lux" Dlamini

The house has not suffered any damage, but Dlamini has since accused the EFF of being behind the incident.

Meanwhile, floods of protesters have begun filling the streets, with the party leaders having made their way to Pretoria CBD.

Some protesters in the National Shutdown. PC: EFF Twitter.

This is a developing story. More updates to follow.

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