Wed, 27 Nov 2013 10:15:00 GMT | By Sapa

Tutu Warns of ‘Assault’ on Democracy

Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu and more than 80 other prominent South Africans have signed a declaration warning of an "assault on democracy" in the country.


Desmond Tutu (© Gallo Images)

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

In a statement, dated 26 November, Tutu and a host of public figures warned that a spate of sometimes violent protests, particularly in the Western Cape, constitute "a growing assault on democracy country wide."

The signatories -- who include religious and secular public figures --accused "politicians and activists" in the Western Cape of stoking anger over the lack of basic services in slums for political gain.

The Western Cape province is governed by the opposition Democratic Alliance and will be a key battle ground in next year's general elections, with the ANC seeking to regain control.

"In the Western Cape there have been blatant attempts to make the province 'ungovernable' simply because certain elements disagree with the democratic choice of the majority in that province," the statement said.

"This attack on democracy is a denial of everything the freedom struggle was about, and is being carried out in a dangerous spirit of hate."

The comments come ahead of a rally planned for Friday in Cape Town, which the authorities have said is unlawful and will be dispersed.

In October thousands of angry demonstrators ran amok in the centre of the city looting shops and assaulting foreign migrants.

"This attack on democracy is a denial of everything the freedom struggle was about"

A group of around 2,000-3,000 people blocked several streets before amassing in front of the provincial legislature to protest against poor public services.

"The recent examples on display in the Western Cape may be a disturbing trend that demonstrates a growing assault on democracy country wide," the statement said.

The Democratic Alliance has accused the ruling ANC and its allies of stoking the fire.

"It is understandable that poor people are feeling frustrated and angry," the signatories said.

"However, constructive engagement on the best way forward is possible and desirable, without resort to violence, and without fomenting hate or disrespect."

They called on those in power to step in.

"The lack of serious leadership and authority in disciplining this form of anti-democratic behaviour carries serious risks and encourages a spirit of hate which, once unleashed, may take many years to overcome with drastic consequences for our economy."

top news

  • ANC  Gallo Images

    The Economic Freedom Fighters have accused the ANC of transporting ANC members to parliament to assault its Members of Parliament.

  • Parliament  Gallo Images

    Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told reporters that extra-ordinary measures have been put in place to prevent the EFF from causing another ‘chaos’ in Parliament, Sapa reported on Tuesday.

  • Julius Malema  Gallo Images

    Leader of the EFF Julius Malema would have breathed a sigh of relief this morning when the provisional sequestration order over his outstanding tax bill was extended to December 1.

  • Jacob Zuma  Gallo Images

    The MPs were scheduled to spend a week in South Africa and meet with President Jacob Zuma and Baleka Mbete; however they cancelled their trip for fear of catching the deadly Ebola virus.

  • Thuli Madonsela  Gallp Images

    Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's letter to President Jacob Zuma this weekend has divided opinion and got many asking whether Zuma will ever be held responsible for any of the R246-million spent on upgrades to Nkandla.

  • People  Gallo Images

    Another earthquake hit Johannesburg in the early hours of Friday morning.

news features

Download Skype
Visit Now.co.za for more news on Now!