South Africa’s Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula contradicted President Cyril Ramaphosa on the nature of the recent civil unrest that engulfed Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.
Ramaphosa had said South Africa had just defeated an “insurgency” bent on undermining the country’s democratic order, but Mapisa-Nqakula on Sunday said the riots and looting were simply the work of “criminal counter-revolutionaries”. Said Mapisa-Nqakula:
We are not seeing signs of a coup or insurgency, but rather a counter-revolution creeping in, in the form of criminality and thuggery. This was designed to sow the seeds of division in the country.
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Well, this is a terrible look for Ramaphosa and the African National Congress (ANC) government as a whole.
This change in terminology matters, because it contradicts what Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation on Friday night.
The President was all too happy to celebrate the “failure” of an insurrection, lamenting an attempt to “dislodge the government”. He said:
These actions are intended to cripple the economy, cause social instability and severely weaken – or even dislodge – the democratic state.
Using the pretext of a political grievance, those behind these acts have sought to provoke a popular insurrection – but they have failed.
The ensuing chaos is used as a smokescreen to carry out economic sabotage through targeted attacks on trucks, factories, warehouses and other infrastructure necessary for the functioning of our economy and the provision of services to our people.
If we stand together, no insurrection or violence in this country will succeed.
Ramaphosa may be left red-faced over the “insurrection rejection” and will have a real job on his hands when it comes to smooth this one over.