This is not like the apartheid era, protest is not the only weapon: Archbishop Makgoba

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba says disciplined political and protest action can lay the foundations of a more equal and less exploitative society. File image.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba says disciplined political and protest action can lay the foundations of a more equal and less exploitative society. File image.
Image: Mabuti Kali

Anglican archbishop Thabo Makgoba is concerned about the division between the “haves” and the “have-nots”, but cautions that looting is not an acceptable form of protest.

“The economic ordering of society and the question of how we develop our material resources is directly relevant to the violence we have seen in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga in the past few days,” he said on Tuesday.

“Much deeper forces than anger over the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma are at work in the mayhem we are seeing. 

“When people go to bed hungry, unemployed, dominated and marginalised, the good in us can be overwhelmed, especially if we see no end to our suffering and especially in times of instability when it seems all bets are off. Desperation can take over, especially when people lose confidence in their political parties and perceive the police as unable to protect their communities.

Violence and looting make the problem worse because those who are its victims will be tempted to hit back with more violence.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

“But violence and looting are not the way to solve the problem.

“We all have the right to protest, but without harming anyone else. We have to condemn the criminal behaviour which takes advantage of instability. However, this is not like the apartheid era, where protest was the only weapon most of us had. Now we also have the right to vote.

“Violence and looting make the problem worse because those who are its victims will be tempted to hit back with more violence.”

Warring communities of “haves” and “have-nots” will result in more suffering, said the archbishop.

“In the struggle against apartheid, even when we did not have the vote, we said our protest should be disciplined and dignified. Lawless mayhem in which everyone did as they pleased, and local criminals took advantage of all of us, only weakened us. Disciplined political and protest action is powerful, and that is what will take us out of our current crisis. It can also lay the foundations of a more equal and less exploitative society.”

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