POLITICAL NEWS - In a tweet on Sunday, EFF leader Julius Malema revisited a long-running allegation that President Cyril Ramaphosa was “deployed” to become president by “investors”, and he appeared to suggest that people breaking lockdown regulations would find there would be heavy a price to pay for it – in fact to “learn a lifetime lesson”.
South Africans, like many other citizens worldwide, have grown frustrated by more than five weeks of living in lockdown, with numerous scenes over the long weekend capturing crowds of people walking, going to shops and joining long food queues with little social distancing in place.
The EFF has been very outspoken about the supposed need to keep heavy lockdown restrictions in place in the apparent hope that the virus can be kept at bay for months or years to come.
The government has, however, said it is unlikely that it will be possible over the medium to long term to prevent the infection rate peaking.
The party has joined many in condemning people being “willing to disobey lockdown regulations”.
In a reasonably threatening comment Malema said: “Let them try, Gareth Cliff must speed up the process so that they can learn a lifetime lesson very fast.”
Malema was referring to an open letter penned by online radio host Gareth Cliff, who has interviewed Malema at his studios in the past.
Cliff’s letter and associated voice note have gone viral, evidently capturing the sentiments of many people. In it he said: “Our patience and emotional state of affairs are on a knife-edge. We are losing hope.”
He cautioned that “regulations not only have to make sense, but also have to have significant buy-in from the public – otherwise people will break them, in big ways and small. South Africans are mostly compliant – but when you promise something and then break that promise, it makes us feel like we should break your regulations in return.”
He added: “Many of us aren’t afraid of the virus anymore. It’s our health and we’ll take our chances, thank you. We ARE afraid of the havoc your lockdown is wreaking on the economy, on people’s lives and livelihoods.
“I see fewer and fewer explanations from ministers and more and more capricious, some would say spiteful, regulation.”
Despite not being a smoker himself, he said the continued ban on tobacco products would simply create unnecessary anger.
“There are more of us than there are police officers and soldiers, so if you **** enough people off, things get very hairy. I’m sure those advisers in the security cluster have mentioned that they can’t shoot us all or put us all in jail.”
Cliff rather threateningly ended with a biblical reference: “When Moses told Pharaoh to let his people go, Pharaoh didn’t listen and there were plagues. We all know how that story went for Pharaoh. You have to start letting our people go Mr President, or this plague will be the least of our worries. Even Moses could tell you that.”
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers)