Deputy President David Mabuza has made assurances that South Africa has strong institutions and there is no need for panic. He was speaking in the wake of a suspected arson attack which saw parts of the parliament precinct go up in flames this past weekend.
Mabuza told journalists on Thursday – after addressing delegates at an event hosted by labour federation Cosatu – that he was certain the country’s crime fighting institutions were strong.
His remarks came just hours after acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo warned that public facilities appeared under threat from those wanting to destroy institutions that symbolise and safeguard constitutional rights.
Zondo issued the statement after the constitutional court was vandalised. The attack came three days after the fire at parliament and a day after Zondo formally handed over the first part of a report on state capture to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Last year, the country’s security cluster came under fire when it was caught napping during the violence and looting in July.
During an inquiry instituted by Ramaphosa into that unrest it became apparent that Police Minister Bheki Cele and then state security minister Ayanda Dlodlo were at odds. Testimony from police commissioner Khehla Sitole also made it evident that Cele was privy to only parts of the police intelligence.
The absence of an intelligence report to help mitigate the violence was highlighted by Cele, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala and former defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
The Mail & Guardian previously reported that those who had orchestrated the attempted insurrection were expected to shift their focus to national key points to weaken the Ramaphosa administration.
But Mabuza said: “We have good institutions that are looking after our safety and we shouldn’t doubt those institutions and I’m sure we have strengthened them.”
Mabuza called for calm while the police and the department of public works investigate the burning of parliament, urging South Africans to stop speculating because this would lead to confusion.
“I’m interested to know the motives behind the burning of parliament, whether it was a human error, whether it was a mechanical fault,” he said.
In his analysis of recent events, Mabuza said the Covid-19 pandemic meant the country was going through a stressful period, resulting in unemployment and hunger.
“(There is) lots of uncertainty but in terms of the safety of our people, our people should know that we have strong institutions that must be protected, that are looking after safety, so there is no need to panic,” he reiterated.