EFF shutdown: Mbalula defends SANDF deployment, says it prevented 'anarchy and chaos'

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  • Fikile Mbalula mocked the EFF's shutdown, labelling it an anarchy attempt. 
  • Mbalula defended Cyril Ramaphosa's decision to deploy more than 3 000 SANDF members. 
  • Mbalula said if president had not responded, he would have been accused of "sleeping on the job". 

If the government had not deployed SANDF members in anticipation of the EFF shutdown, authorities would have been accused of sleeping on the job, says ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula. 

Mbalula mocked what he viewed as a "flop" anarchy attempt by the EFF on Monday. 

He was speaking at a media briefing at Luthuli House in Johannesburg on Wednesday. 

He said the EFF's language ahead of the shutdown was divisive and violent, which warranted a swift response by authorities.

The ANC leader said President Cyril Ramaphosa's decision to deploy the army, and the significant presence of law enforcement agencies, ensured that "anarchy and chaos" did not prevail. 

Ramaphosa deployed 3 474 SANDF members, effective from 17 March to 17 April.

Mbalula said that, if the government did not act, it would have been accused of "sleeping on the job". 

"A responsible state cannot allow that re-occurrence, especially when you are forewarned, you have to cover the basics. It was not just war talk by the EFF; they were inflammatory speaking, and nothing about peace was being uttered. 

READ | 'EFF tried to blame govt for its own flop': Presidency says shutdown failed because EFF 'not popular'

"If Ramaphosa did not respond, as he did, you would say he is sleeping on the job, and this man must go. The army's deployment was justifiable," Mbalula said.

Mbalula took credit for the lack of significant public participation in the national shutdown, saying South Africans had heeded ANC calls not to join the protest. 

He said the July unrest had served as an example of the need for a quick response from law enforcement agencies. 

EFF supporters protesting in Joburg for the national shutdown on Monday.

"Our people withdrew and, because of that, this shutdown could not succeed. We reiterate that the EFF shutdown was neither in the country's interest nor did it advance our hard-won democracy. It demonstrated that the EFF has no interest in building a cohesive nation," Mbalula said. 

READ | ANC says De Ruyter tarnished its 'good name', Eskom owes it an explanation

Mbalula touched on the latest developments around former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter. 

The ANC had sent a letter of demand to De Ruyter for allegations he made about ANC officials not acting on corruption allegations at the state-owned entity.  

De Ruyter still needed to respond to the ANC's legal demands, Mbalula said.

He insisted the party was determined to hold De Ruyter accountable. 

"De Ruyter, we are still pursuing him legally. By last week, we were still tracing him through legal means because he did not respond to us.

"We will find him because he has to account for what he said. If he does not respond, we will take him on legally," Mbalula said.

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