Opinion: Violent protests a product of apartheid

BY MATTHEW COLLINS - FEBRUARY 6, 2015

In the wake of the violent and destructive service-delivery protests that have happened in South Africa, such as those happening in the North-west (particularly in Majakaneng), one is driven to ask questions in attempting to understand such behaviour.

When digging into the archives of days gone by, one is overwhelmed by the parallels, in terms of behaviour, when “speaking out” to the government – no matter which government. And, seeing that “actions speak louder than words”, as some believe, it would appear that many South Africans have held true to their protesting “traditions” of the past.

Viewing sources of many anti-apartheid protests from back in the day, it is evident that the sights of burning structures and vehicles were not uncommon. In fact, they can be argued to have been expected.

After many decades of failed attempts by countless individuals to gain their political expectations by peaceful methods; violence with violence, destruction with destruction and an “eye for an eye” policy was seen as the only viable solution to their discontent. So, in an almost revenge-laden attempt to end the South African system of racial segregation, protestors would head to the streets with destructive force. In the 80’s, P.W. Botha would call for a State of Emergency and the country would plummet into darkness.

Eventually, those political expectations would be delivered and the country would be transformed into a democracy in 1994. But a new set of expectations would stand strong.

Service delivery remains an expectation which many South Africans have not been “liberated” from. Therefore, in order to change this it seems that, according to many, the only viable method is chaos and destruction.

Could it be that apartheid has instilled a learned behaviour of anarchy; that the perceived success of destruction, in ending apartheid, is now seen as the only method that actually works and will work in receiving their service-delivery expectations?

If so, it would be unfortunately ironic in that the ANC, condoning destruction at one stage in their own history, must now deal with that which no government in power ever wishes for.

 

Images courtesy of: www.theguardian.com  &  www.enca.com