National shutdown: A for effort, zero for results, many mumble
There was a despairing mood among those marching during the national shutdown.
An EFF supporter gestures from his car as protestors march to the presidential guest house in Pretoria on 20 March 2023 during a national shutdown called by the party. Photo: EMMANUEL CROSET / AFP
Although not a historical moment, the “mother of all shutdowns” proved that many South Africans are tired of the ruling party and desperately looking for change.
Despite a number of experts previously saying South Africans are not angry enough, the protest action on Monday was a confirmation of a shared anger, not only towards the ANC but towards President Cyril Ramaphosa as well.
If there was a word to describe the mood on the ground or written on the faces of those who marched from Church Square in Pretoria to Mahlamba Ndlopfu, the presidential residence, near the Union Buildings, it would be despair.
In the midst of the chanting and marching, it was hard to ignore the mood coming from most of the marchers not in higher positions in political parties.
Do not get me wrong, the energy was there, especially in Pretoria; you cannot deny the numbers that came out in support of the shutdown, but speaking to some protesters, it seemed many were despondent, anxious, hopeless and had lost their optimism.
Sarah Malele, 62, from Olievenhoutbosch – a township in Centurion, south of Pretoria – said she was tired of the lies.
“The ANC has betrayed us, politics has betrayed us, we deserve better,” she said.
“Unlike many white people, we have nowhere else to go, no means to run away from this and no-one to run to. We have no other option than to fight for what we know.”
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Saying people are hungry, figuratively and literally, is an understatement. They are desperately seeking a saviour, which is a dangerous mood for a hard-earned democracy and possibly a reflection of the upcoming general election.
Looking at the hundreds of people walking back to the Union Buildings after being dismissed, from their mumbles you could tell they were hoping for more, anything more than going back to the same situation which forced them out onto the streets in the first place.
SA has reached a point where it is no longer about who to vote for, but about a candidate most willing to dig deepest into their pockets.