STATEMENT BY EASTERN CAPE PREMIER LUBABALO OSCAR MABUYANE ON VIOLENT PROTESTS GRIPPING GAUNTENG AND KZN, 13 JULY 2021

Peace loving and law-abiding citizens of the Eastern Cape, we have seen messages of a campaign trying to mobilize you to do what is happening in our two sister provinces of Gauteng and KZN.

We want to assure you that law enforcement agencies are investigating the origins of those messages to arrest the ring leaders of that campaign. We also urge you to report to law enforcement authorities any attempts to fuel violent protests in their communities. 

We commend the ordinary people of our province for refusing to emulate in our province, the violent conduct of looting businesses and destroying public and private infrastructure that we see in our sister provinces of Gauteng and KZN. We are inspired by the campaigns that are led by ordinary people on social media to discourage each other from participating in acts of criminality, and in our communities to protect their towns from any potential attacks by anarchists.

We applaud the taxi industry for taking a stand against anarchists as any form of violent protests in towns will affect their business. We urge civic organizations, business sector, labour organizations, religious sector, traditional leaders, youth formations and leaders of political parties to also take a stand and be on the ground to quell any attempts of causing anarchy in all the regions of our province.

We are in the phase of building the Eastern Cape we want, not of destroying the Eastern Cape we have. Let us all protect the future our children.

As it is, our province is battling with huge challenges of socio-economic infrastructure underdevelopment. Many of our brothers and sisters were forced to look for work in other provinces and that does not sit well with us. We cannot afford to shoot ourselves on the foot, by destroying the infrastructure we have, as it is a catalyst for jobs.

We are making inroads to develop key infrastructure such as roads, ports and building new factories, particularly in COEGA SEZ and EL SEZ to make our province attractive to investors. Violent, anarchic protests will be a turn off to potential new investors. It is in the interest of every person in our province to protect the investments we have and to build on them to create new jobs for our unemployed people.

We have a challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality which affects mainly people in townships and rural areas. Over the past few years, government, in partnership with the private sector has worked hard to re-build the economy of our province to create jobs for our people. Most of the investments we have gained in our province are in the retail space, in the form of shopping malls and state of the art taxi ranks, in places where there were none before.

These shopping malls provide jobs to the people of our province and enable them to put food on their tables. The shopping malls closer to our communities also make shopping cost effective for locals. They must be protected by the people they serve. 

The people orchestrating the violent protests want to target these shopping centers that provide jobs to many of our people. They also want to close roads that enable transportation of food, medicines, and other essential items that we need for our daily lives.

Our people should defend their own jobs and livelihoods and they have the power to do so. On the side of government, we are ready to deal with the threat of violent protests and the police will be highly visible in our communities to protect our people and local businesses.

I have asked national government to put the soldiers that are based in our province on high alert, for deployment to support our South African Police Officers if the need arises. The soldiers are the defenders of innocent people against anarchists and will assist the police to prevent destruction of public and private property.

We are extremely concerned by what is happening in our sister provinces of Gauteng and KZN, because we have socio-economic links with those two provinces. We join President Cyril Ramaphosa in calling for the cooling of tensions.

Let us all continue to focus on the task of flattening the curve of the Covid-19 third wave to save lives and livelihoods and rebuilding the economy of our province to create jobs.

The Premier will be meeting with all organized Taxi formation this morning and has also directed all Mayors to meet local taxi associations as well in an attempt to quell the violence and destruction of both public and private property.   

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