EFF responds to DA's
EFF responds to DA's "frivolous legal action" against National Shutdown on 20 March. Photo: Twitter / @54Battalion

The EFF has responded to what it calls the DA’s “frivolous legal action” against the planned national shutdown on Monday 20 March, defining it as an anti-democratic publicity stunt that proves the DA “still seeks to salvage the Cyril Ramaphosa Presidency as a proxy of its neo-liberal policy outlook”.

The DA today launched legal action against “intimidation and threats of violence” allegedly being peddled by the EFF across the country, ahead of Monday’s shutdown.

DA Leader John Steenhuisen said in a statement on Tuesday: “We are deeply concerned by the intimidatory tactics being employed by members of the EFF, who are threatening “consequences” for any business that dares to open and trade on the day, and for any adult or child who dares to go to work or school on that day.”

The EFF said in a subsequent statement that the DA’s claims are false and “baseless”, and shows the DA’s “racist presumption that African people have no capacity to express themselves in a peaceful manner”.

The EFF pointed out that the DA’s “racism is clear because when they formed part of National Demonstrations against former President Jacob Zuma, they never feared any forms of violence or intimidation. Today, because they are in the same camp with Rampahosa and are not part of the march, the march will suddenly be violent.”

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis yesterday responded to similar accusations, tweeting: “They (the anti-Zuma protestors) didn’t explicitly threaten looting and violence, and didn’t visit businesses intimidating them into closing. Peaceful protest is fine. Violence, looting, intimidation is not.”

Steenhuisen said there is mounting evidence that the EFF is fully prepared to break the law on Monday in pursuit of its own political agenda.

Steenhuisen says the EFF’s explicit threats of violence and acts of intimidation include:

  • A picture on social media of the EFF Mpumalanga leader in full red EFF-branded clothing posing with a semi-automatic rifle, and a caption saying: “By all means necessary or possible we are ready @EFFSouthAfrica.”
  • A video doing the rounds of EFF party members announcing the shutdown via a loudspeaker from the back of a bakkie, where the speaker is heard saying: “We are saying to you close down all your businesses to avoid the looting. Close down all your shops to avoid the looting. Close down all your factories to avoid the lootings. Close down everything; nothing will be operating on that day; we are avoiding the looting. So, we are saying to you, come and join the march, my brother; come and join the march, my sister.”
  • Giving the Minister of Education seven days to close schools, saying that any child wearing a school uniform will be doing so at their own risk.
  • Issuing a letter to the OR Tambo Airport authorities warning them not to allow any flights or business activity on the day.

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) and the Land Party have all expressed their intention to join the EFF in the march. None have said they intend to be violent, said the EFF.

The EFF accused the DA of having a “vested interest” in keeping Ramaphosa as a “puppet and mascot of their financial interests”, and of singling out the EFF when others are also joining the shutdown.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) will be demonstrating at the North Gauteng High Court in Tshwane, while other political parties and movements have also expressed their intention to raise concerns through the courts or on picket lines, on 20 March, the EFF said.

The EFF also accused the DA of treating the Western Cape as a province separate from SA, since the interdict against the National Shutdown only applies to the City of Cape Town.

The EFF says: “The conditions in the Western Cape are dire, particularly for black people who live on the outskirts of wealth, suffer a lack of service delivery and experience poverty as a quality of life reserved for white people in the province.”

According to claims by the EFF, poverty is harshest in the Western Cape where farm workers are “paid in alcohol, Africans use pota-pota toilets and their lives are defined by racist spatial planning”.

South Africans have had enough, says the EFF, of “massive unemployment, high rate of crime and Gender Based Violence, lack of service delivery, corruption and the continued rolling electricity blackouts”.

The Eff says: “The DA cannot and will not stop the overwhelming frustration and pain of our people in defence of Cyril Ramaphosa, and these frustrations will be felt on our streets on the 20th of March 2023.

“It is No Retreat, No Surrender. Join the National Shutdown on the 20th of March, Freedom Day! Ramaphosa Must Resign Now!”

Steenhuisen acknowledged that it’s a constitutional right to undertake peaceful protest action, and that the DA will defend this right whether it’s the DA or the EFF protesting BUT that this right is not unlimited, and can “never constitute justification for criminal behaviour, or behaviour that violates or threatens the rights of others. Just as people have the right to protest, they also have the right to not protest…”

The DA has requested that the Minister of Defence deploys standby soldiers.

The DA says it is approaching the Court today to:

  • ensure the EFF complies with the conditions of permits issued by relevant Municipalities giving permission for peaceful protest,
  • ]seek a Court interdict to ensure that the EFF leadership formally retracts all intimidation letters that they have issued, such as the letter issued to OR Tambo Airport warning the airport authority not to allow any flights or business activity on the day.

Other action taken by the DA today in the face of National Shutdown on 20 March:

  • The opposition party’s lawyers have drafted a template affidavit that can be used by any business owner who has been intimidated by any EFF representatives, to report such behaviour and press formal charges of intimidation;
  • The DA has called on Police Minister Cele to issue a strong statement against the National Shutdown and assuring South Africans that the SAPS and the entire security cluster is on standby to respond to violence.
  • The DA has written to President Ramaphosa asking him to issue a stern preemptive warning that no violence, vandalism or intimidation will be tolerated, and that any such behaviour will meet the full force of the law.
  • Steenhuisen said the DA has also “resolved to press charges against the EFF and hold them personally liable for any damage done to person, property, lives and livelihoods perpetrated during their so-called shutdown.”

Steenhuisen says shutting the economy down for a day won’t solve the problems, and will only push SA deeper into chaos and poverty.