Leaders fear Zuma loyalists lay behind wave of violence
The Guardian Weekly|July 23, 2021
South African authorities this week feared a new wave of attacks aimed at undermining the economy, investment, and the rule of law as networks loyal to former president Jacob Zuma seeks to force his return to power.
Jason Burke

Investigators believe the unrest earlier this month, which killed more than 200 and caused massive damage across the country, was deliberately provoked as part of a broader strategy by political opponents to force president Cyril Ramaphosa to pardon Zuma or even step down.

The worst violence since the end of the apartheid regime 27 years ago has injured many people beyond those killed and caused huge economic damage. Hundreds of shops have been looted, factories destroyed, warehouses razed, clinics vandalised and ports disabled.

The immediate trigger for the chaos was the imprisonment earlier this month of Zuma to serve a 15-month sentence for contempt of court. Loyalists and close aides of the former president, who faces a number of corruption charges, are among those suspected of organising the violence.

Last Friday, Ramaphosa said it was clear the unrest had been an attempt to provoke an insurrection. “The constitutional order of our country is under threat. These actions are intended to cripple the economy, cause social instability and severely weaken – or even dislodge – the democratic state,” said the president, who ousted Zuma in 2018.

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