In November 1916, Pavel Milyukov, recognising the inability of the Duma to do the right thing, asked whether that was driven by stupidity or treason. Here, in the last few days, we can add questions of the levels of competence, quality of leadership, and management failures. For example, our intelligence services failed to understand and prevent the actions intended to reduce our supply chains in KZN and Gauteng to rubble. Emerging news is that infrastructure vital to a functional state serving our people has also been targeted.
Who conceived this and why?
It is too early to fully address this question with certainty, and I hope the next week brings answers as our police arrest the “12 instigators” they have identified. Suggestions that ex- and current rogue members of our security and intelligence apparatus are involved is worrying. Assertions that members of MK are behind the troubles suggest that they are as intent on bringing the country to its knees as they were in the liberation struggles. If this is true, which masters are they serving? Certainly not the poor and downtrodden.
The under-equipping of ordinary police and the near invisibility of trained public order policing adds to concerns.
That this was planned has to be true. That the tsunami of looting and violence unleashed was expected might not be -but has already caused untold harm.
The impact on hunger, logistics and food supply requires emergency relief on an enormous scale. Harm to our economy and investors’ confidence, small and large, is long term even if the government returns us to stability quickly. The answers we need are urgent and must rely on civil society and the media, which has already done dangerous and sterling work. Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of time for our judiciary to grind their way through the process (as they must).
Whilst by no means the worst of what has happened, the reports of tens of thousands of litres of milk – with its symbolism of nurture and kindness – being dumped by farmers because all means of getting it to dairies and then to people are halted or broken, sits most heavily with me. Cows have to be milked every day.
I hope that enough clarity will have emerged by next Thursday (22nd July) to allow clearer insight into “why and who did this” Please keep the evening free and look out for an invitation to our following Dialogue.