LESEGO SECHABA MOGOTSI | EFF shutdown was a costly experiment for taxpayers

Deployment of the soldiers cost taxpayers R166.5m

An EFF march through the streets of Pretoria.
An EFF march through the streets of Pretoria.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

The EFF national shutdown last Monday dominated the general political discussions on all social and media platforms and it was not because, for some odd reason, South Africans have suddenly discovered a  messiah in Julius Malema.

Many of us know that Malema is no different from some of the other political leaders. He is the kind of politician who has the tendency to speak with forked tongues. He has over the years developed the ability of talking peace and war in the same sentence; if this is a strategy or a tactic to maintain a media presence, and it will certainly backfire in the long run.

Whether the EFF national shutdown was successful or unsuccessful is neither here nor there, I am just happy that there was a general calmness and relative peace on the day despite the reported 550 people who were arrested on charges ranging from public violence, intimidation, damage to critical infrastructure, theft and attempted looting.

I think many political commentators and analysts are missing the point in their analysis; the fact some of us chose to remain indoors and stayed away from the streets was not in response to the EFF’s call for national shutdown, but as a precautionary measure to avoid unnecessary clashes and confrontation with the EFF supporters on our way to work.

It is a well known fact that shutdowns in SA are generally unpredictable and are often hijacked by thugs and criminal elements. It is even worse when a shutdown is organised by the same politicians that are well known for unruly behaviour  in parliament, provincial legislatures and town councils for the normal business of the day to proceed without disruption.

The EFF shutdown and demands were also quite confusing and contradictory. On one hand they were demanding President Cyril Ramaphosa resign with immediate effect, and on the other hand they were indirectly saying they are ecstatic with the ANCs overall performance as a governing party as long as it is not led by Ramphosa as president of the Republic. Maybe this explains why they are reconnecting with the ANC in the cities of Tshwane, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni in exchange for mayoral, MMC and other positions at provincial and national level post Ramaphosa’s tenure.

There is absolutely nothing to celebrate about the shutdown, it cost  the SA taxpayer R166.5m. This is certainly one of those unnecessary costs that could have been avoided.

Some political commentators and analysts argued that the deployment of the soldiers at a cost of R166.5m was an indication that there are enough resources available to fight crime. What they did not take into consideration was that the current budget has a deficit of R385bn. Accordingly, if the state were to deploy the South African National Defence Force based on this estimated cost of R166.5m a day, we would find ourselves with another huge R60.7bn debt burden.

The decisions taken by some of the politicians at times are selfish, self-centered and more about themselves than those they often proclaim to represent and lead. The EFF national shutdown was a costly experiment.

• Mogotsi is a member of Azapo

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