Jul 20, 2018

What just happened in Hermanus? 20 July 2018

Several people today wanted to know what was behind the serious violence in Hermanus? I don't live there and do not have first hand knowledge of Zwelihle but this is my take. Please correct me if I am wrong.

What happened in Hermanus during the past week was not a so called service delivery protest, it was an uprising, a rebellion. My Cambridge dictionary defines this as a violent action organized by a group of people who are trying to change the political system in their country. Yes it was about housing, the fence, the arrest of their leader but it was also about much more. The leadership of the group publicly stated that they reject both the DA which governs the municipality and the ANC, which governs the country. Symbols of both these entities, municipal and state property were either damaged or destroyed. It is abundantly clear that the leadership of Zwelihle Renewal rejects any and all kinds of authority. From their social media posts it is clear the leadership of the group also has a pro black, anti white and coloured political stance, which seems to align with radical groups such as the Black First Land First movement.

Their leader is obviously a charismatic and intelligent person as he had convinced a substantial section of the population to support his cause. His cause? The way I see it he used local issues such as the ineptness of the Overstrand Municipality, the fence, housing etc to push another agenda and that was a rebellion. A rebellion against what he perceives as the white local government, the "rich" white and coloured people living around him, a rebellion against a system which he and his group experience as oppressive and which he thought he could change. Idealistic to say the least. Even if all whites are chased into the sea tomorrow (which he apparently advocates) that does not mean that black people are going to step into their shoes and be "rich" like them. The opposite is probably true - the poor people will in all likelihood become poorer.

It might have worked had the leadership not attacked the ANC and the national government and if the fight had stayed under the national radar. ZR started losing the fight when the narrative turned against them and accused them of being a group of thugs holding the larger population hostage. Whether it was true of not is not important. It became the leading narrative, supported by fb videos of people (presumably ZR) burning people's belongings. They finally lost when the first policeman ( an embodiment of the state ) was attacked with an axe. The fight went viral/national and the government has now turned the full force of the state security machinery against Zwelihle Renewal. As I write this I understand all of the leadership has been arrested. Without leadership the protest will subside and the rebellion fueled by hatred for white and coloured South Africans will die down, but not disappear. It will rise again some time in future. There is too much hatred for it not to. Gerard Grobler

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