South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called South Africans to order, warning against misinformation circulating on social media meant to whip up people’s emotions towards the destruction of the country’s infrastructure, while the country is struggling to keep its economy afloat during this COVID-19 pandemic.
In his State of the Nation Address, President Ramaphosa acknowledged the Constitutional right to for everyone to freely express themselves, but condemned the violent protests that engulfed South Africa following the arrest of former South African President Jacob Zuma.
“Our Constitution guarantees everyone’s right to feely express themselves and to engage in peaceful protest peacefully. While there are those who may be hurt and angry at this moment, there can never be any justification for such violent, destructive and disruptive actions,” President Ramaphosa said.
Speaking on the scale of damage done by these violent protests and their effects, President Ramaphosa said, “In the past few days we have seen sporadic but increasingly violent protest in some parts of the country. Key infrastructure like national roads has been affected, slowing down the transportation of goods and services that keep out economy running.
“Property has been destroyed. Cars have been stoned. People have been intimidated and threatened, and some have been hurt. These acts are endangering lives and damaging our efforts to rebuild the economy.
“We also condemn attempts to create confusion by sharing false images and video, often from events that took place many years ago,” he added.
Taking a swipe at the various pro-Zuma hashtags #FreeJacobZuma #HandsOffMsholozi, #WenzeniuZuma and #100%BehindZuma, President Ramaphosa condemned the tribal connotations in them, while appealing for the people to allow the rule of law to take its course.
“It is a matter of concern to all South Africans that some of these acts of violence are based on ethnic mobilisation. This must be condemned by all South Africans at all costs as we are a nation committed to non-racialism and non-tribalism that is underpinned by the diversity and unity of all the people of South Africa, whatever their language, culture, religious beliefs and race.
“Our commitment to our democratic Constitution is based on the fundamental principle that all people are equal before the law, and that all people have the right to equal protection before the law,” he concluded.