South Africa

South Africa has emerged as a major power on the continent since the end of white minority rule in 1994. Its size, relative stability and the moral authority won through the long anti-apartheid struggle give it unusual weight in African and international diplomacy. Nonetheless, the ruling African National Congress has lost some of its lustre after a decade of economic mismanagement and corruption that has eroded much of the state’s infrastructure. The country has lately experienced severe unrest due largely to persistent crime, joblessness and inequality exacerbated by COVID-19 lockdowns. Through reporting and analysis, Crisis Group tracks indicators of social conflict in the country, advocating for economic reform, while pushing Pretoria to assume a bigger role on the regional stage.

CrisisWatch South Africa

Deteriorated Situation

Most violent unrest since end of apartheid in 1991 killed over 300. After former President Zuma 7 July began serving 15-month prison sentence for refusing to testify in corruption probe, riots next day erupted in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces, with mobs blocking major highways, looting shops and warehouses. Protesters 11 July marched through capital Johannesburg, with acts of vandalism reported. Rioters 13 July looted warehouses and supermarkets in port city of Durban, forcing country’s largest refinery on city’s outskirts to shut down temporarily, while roads to Durban’s harbour – sub-Saharan Africa’s largest – also closed, disrupting fuel and food deliveries as well as key exports. Army 13 July announced dispatch of 25,000 troops to provinces. President Ramaphosa 16 July said calm had been restored and unrest was “deliberate, coordinated and well-planned attack on our democracy”; also announced arrest of over 2,500 people for alleged involvement in violence. Govt 22 July said 337 people killed during unrest. Zuma 19 July sought further delay of corruption trial; High Court in Pietermaritzburg city next day granted request, adjourning proceedings by three weeks to 10-13 Aug.
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