Is South Africa ready to tackle terrorism?

2015-01-18 14:14

Permit me to respond ,online on this platform, to the very pertinently raised and a profoundly relevant  issue , in the media  and elsewhere regarding whether or not SA is ready to tackle terrorism if and when it occurs here.

Government, through its security cluster, boldly declared that it is. I have my doubts.

Judging from the flood of negative responses  generated in the print media especially in the  aftermath of the  murderous attacks in Paris I would expand the question to whether or not South Africans generally recognise the pathology of terrorism and what leads to that manifesting itself in South Africa? A rider to that is whether or not that is already in play in the country? Its disappointing that those who have thus far responded frame the debate within the stereotype of Islam and Muslims.

Its easy to engage in the blame game. Just as the Nazis were able to win over ordinary Germans by blaming Jews on the economic , social and political decadance that led to the Holocaust and just as the Hutus were able to get away as they did with over a million Tutsis being massacred  in Rwanda, we become easy targets if we subscribe to attributing the crime of terrorism on Muslims or Islam. We need to understand what are the factors that contribute towards crime in general and terrorism in particular.

In case anyone , singular and plural is/are having a blond moment, the issue  should include, what are the socio-political/economic conditions that contribute to crime in general and to terrorism, if the framers of the narrative say it is a specific crime, specifically?

Let me extrapolate. Apartheid was brought down by what would now be classified as terrorism and yet, there are the same undercurrents that existed in the 1970s especially, of this in the townships (service delivery protests), in industry ( violent mine related deaths through protest action) and in civil society ( poverty induced crimes etc) at play.


As long as these undercurrents are not comprehensively addressed then, as we are sitting on a time bomb, South Africans should expect something as odious as terrorism to occur.

And with Islam being equated with terrorism itself being the mainspring of any narrative mediated by the media, I have no doubt to have the likes of those 'expert' guest columnists will emerge from the crevices of prejudice and intolerance and once against manage the debate within the Islam=terrorism framework.

My views is that South Africa is ready to tackle terrorism if government is willing and capable of ridding itself  of corruption etc  and to resolve the undercurrents that are swelling beneath the dam of discontent. Right now, it's behaving like an ostrich with its head so far beneath the sand that it's deaf and blind to the clarion call of the discontented and the marginalised who are potential fair game to opportunists lurking in the shadows.

It also  depends on us the in civil society who are prepared to be proactive in ensuring that socio-political and economic justice is achieved.

We have one of the most progressive constitutions, with a  justiciable Bill of Rights, in Africa and yet  the drumbeats of discontent are getting louder and louder.

So government may declare that its ready, but I doubt it.................

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