Show of support

2009-02-04 00:00

What right has any political party to take over the Pietermaritzburg CBD and use it for a show of support for a senior party member, causing some streets to be closed and affecting the commercial activity on which the city depends?

The answer is that every political party in a democracy such as our own has the right to demonstrate solidarity when the occasion warrants and to do so in a setting appropriate to that occasion, as long as the demonstration is peaceful and not intended as intimidation. Today’s show of support for ANC president Jacob Zuma, who is to have the date for his corruption trial set in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, does not appear to have any intimidatory motive. Indeed, the organisers, having obtained permission for it, will provide 500 marshals to keep crowds in order and have made logistical arrangements with police, whose main concern will be security outside the court.

Previous such gatherings have passed off relatively quietly. While this one looks to be larger than most, there is reason to hope and believe that it, too, will be unmarred by violence, vandalism or harm to passers-by.

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