Army Deploys Across South Africa As Opposition Strike Looms


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP

Johannesburg: South Africa's army said on Friday it will deploy troops to guard key infrastructure and reinforce law enforcers ahead of next week's nationwide opposition strike to demand President Cyril Ramaphosa's resignation.

The country's third largest party, the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), has called for a 'national shutdown' on Monday.

It is demanding that Ramaphosa steps down over his handling of the country's sickly economy, electricity shortages and stratospheric unemployment.

The South African Defence Force said it was 'tasked and authorised... to render assistance' to the police.

The army -- which will deploy from Friday for a month -- will protect 'national key points under threat as per prevailing intelligence/information on hand', it said.

Soldiers will also respond to 'situations which go beyond the control of the law enforcement agencies'.

Ramaphosa on Thursday warned that 'disorder and anarchy will not be allowed', suggesting the timing of the protests a year ahead of national elections was a political ploy.

'Regime change can only come about through the vote, it cannot come about through anarchy,' Ramaphosa said.

EFF party leader Julius Malema told his supporters at a hall in Soweto late on Friday that 'no-one can stop a revolution'.

'The state is shaking, the government is scared,' he said.

'We demand the downfall of Ramaphosa,' said Malema, accusing the president of causing high joblessness and collapsing the economy.

Some businesses and schools have voiced concern about operating on the protest day and others have already opted to pull down their shutters.

The army did not give numbers of troops to be deployed.

But deadly riots and looting that struck the country in July 2021, sparked by the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma, prompted the deployment of some 25,000 troops to assist overwhelmed police.

The unrest killed at least 350 people in the worst violence since the end of apartheid in South Africa.

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