'Not supported by facts': Presidency hits back at defence minister's insurrection denial

Acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni speaks at a press briefing on Monday afternoon: 'The unrest was a failed insurrection attempt.'
Acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni speaks at a press briefing on Monday afternoon: 'The unrest was a failed insurrection attempt.'
Image: GCIS

There is no truth to any suggestion that the recent violence and rioting in parts of SA were anything less than an insurgency.

Acting minister in the presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, made this statement on Monday after apparently conflicting government views.  

Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told parliament on Sunday there was no evidence to suggest that the recent unrest was a coup or an insurrection. She said it was her view that the military was, instead, seeing signs of a “counterrevolution creeping in, in the form of criminality and thuggery”.

This was in apparent contradiction to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who told the nation on Friday that the unrest was a failed insurrection attempt.

He repeated the comments at an ANC Mandela Day event not long after Mapisa-Nqakula's appearance before parliament, saying: “It is clear now the events of the past week were a deliberate, co-ordinated and well-planned attack on our democracy, on our economy and our people’s livelihoods. Our young democracy and our movement [the ANC] are going through, at the moment, a very difficult time. 

“We cannot say similar attacks will not be attempted in future, nor can we say those who seek to divide us will stop in their efforts.”

On Monday, Ntshavheni dismissed Mapisa-Nqakula's view as ill-informed. 

“We want to clarify that the position of the government is that as articulated by the president, of an attempt at an insurrection in the country. That perspective is informed by discussions at the National Security Council, which is chaired by the president and receives briefings from the military commanders and other law-enforcement officials.

“Any contrary view ... is not supported by any facts by our law-enforcement agencies,” she said.  

Ntshavheni said the situation in both Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal had since stabilised as no new incidents of looting or destruction of property had been reported. 

“The situation in Gauteng has completely stabilised and the cleanup and business continuity efforts were fully operational for those businesses that were not vandalised.

“In KwaZulu-Natal, the situation is now stable and no new incidents of looting were reported. However, three additional deaths have been reported.”

The latest fatalities have taken the death toll to 215.

In terms of arrests made in connection with incitement of violence, Ntshavheni said six “key instigators” were apprehended and charged, three of whom had already appeared in court. One was granted bail. 

Ntshavheni said the instigators would be dealt with according to provisions of the law and further arrests were expected soon.

On food shortage concerns, she said the situation had improved.  

“We can confirm that stores have been replenished with the improvement of food supplies from Gauteng and the ports .It is in areas where shopping centres have been completely vandalised that people may have to travel to purchase their supplies,” she said.

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