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What drove South Africa’s recent violence and looting and what to do about it

- Ozayr Patel with David Everatt

Pasha 117: South Africa's recent violence is a cause for concern but there are opportunities to build a stronger nation.

After former president Jacob Zuma was recently arrested for contempt of court, South Africa went into disarray. Widespread looting, vandalism and violence broke out. Two provinces – Gauteng, the country’s economic hub, and KwaZulu-Natal, on the east coast – bore the brunt of this. What was initially premised on Zuma’s arrest transpired into something much more coordinated, controlled and dangerous.

Many reasons for the violence have been noted. These include:

  • the frustration of hungry and cold people whose prospects were already constrained by the pandemic;
  • inequality between rich and poor;
  • tensions within the governing party;
  • stereotypical Zulu nationalism; and
  • racial tensions in the country.

It cannot be ignored that these incidents speak of insurrection - which means to rise against the power of the state, generally using weaponry. In today’s episode of Pasha, David Everatt, a professor of urban governance at Wits University, discusses the elements that led to the violence and how the government must deal with it.