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Is South Africa ripe for a coup d'état?

09 June 2012, 09:28

The requirements for a coup vary but common causes are when the political environment is leaderless, incompetent, corrupt and unstable. Combine this with mass unemployment and general sense of hopelessness and you have the perfect recipe.

The masses are sitting and watching the political elite and politically connected plunder SA’s riches at will with no recourse to them, the voter and or tax payer. It is no wonder that a cloud of discontent looms over South Africa.

In Coup d’état: A Practical Handbook, military historian Edward Luttwak states that "[a] coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder."

Now comes the question as to who could initiate a coup - the SAPS (South African Police Service) are the first that spring to mind as they are perfectly positioned and well-armed to do so.

They guard most of the country's elected officials (including the President and Cabinet members), key government offices, communications media, critical infrastructure and National Key Points such as the airports etc. so for them to simply take over is not that difficult.

The SAPS are in total disarray at the moment with criminal charges being laid against top management and while they are supposed to be apolitical this is most definitely not the case in South Africa as “Cadre Deployment” is the norm. Cronyism and self-serving agendas mean that they have more than a good reason to want to protect themselves and their ill-gotten gains.

I sincerely doubt we could rely on our SANDF (South African National Defence Force) to prevent this as they themselves are much in the same position as the SAPS when it comes to self-serving agendas.

Not so long ago a protest march to the Union buildings by members of the SANDF was held at bay by a handful of SAPS members who were outnumbered and out armed.  This instils no confidence in our Defence Force at all and they would most likely join the SAPS in overthrowing the current government.

Coup d'états are common in Africa; between 1952 and 2000, thirty-three countries experienced 85 such depositions and many more since 2000. The recent uprisings in Northern Africa are a further example.

Are we next?

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