Press Release

Cabinet Reshuffle Raises Concerns about Increased Conflict and Violence

31 March 2017

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) views the new appointments to the South African cabinet as deeply concerning because of its implications for deepening social divides and threatening stability in our country. This is a turning point for our country, one that calls on all South Africans to again speak out collectively in the name of the common cause – defending the democratic gains of our liberation.

The new cabinet appointments made by President Jacob Zuma on 30 March have raised red flags regarding the increased centralisation of authority within the presidency and the consolidation of the relations between political leadership and selected economic elites.  These new cabinet appointments confirm fears of an increasingly closed off political elite who are averse to criticism and constructive engagement with transparent and accountable dialogue. Unless these deepening political divisions are addressed, it is likely to fuel violent protests, particularly in a context where the ANC members and supporters feel themselves alienated from their leadership.

In a context where state legitimacy has been increasingly questioned in recent years, the unilateral actions of the President in making controversial appointments will further feed into public alienation from the state.  South Africa has experienced rise in service delivery protests (that now also gripped the education sector), pointing to a state that is facing a responsiveness and accountability crisis.

Presidential decisions that fly in the face of the national financial stability and internal political accountability reverses many of the positive achievements of the last 23 years of democracy.  South Africa has seen continued or increasing levels of conflict and violence in various sectors of our society – gender violence, xenophobic violence, violent policing, vigilantism and service delivery and education protests that have become increasingly violent. Many of these forms of violence have their roots in the state’s failure to address the basic needs of communities. These social problems and conflicts erupt into violence when communities do not see the government as attentive to their concerns or willing to listen to their voices. When now, even the ANC NEC , feel that their voices are no longer being heard by the President, the powerlessness felt by the rest of the society is likely intensify and fuel more conflict. 

The cabinet reshuffle also undermines the stability of the state.  A strong developmental state is dependent on cabinet members that are competent and who can instil confidence in the ruling party, in the international community, and among South Africans more broadly. Our new trajectory is likely to weaken the state’s capacity and fuel conflict.

  • We call on the President to reverse these appointments
  • We call on the ANC to call its leadership, especially President Zuma to account.
  • We call on South Africans to voice their concerns and engage in collective peaceful protests and through available democratic processes.
  • We call on civil society to unite in a collective process of protest, engagement and increased activism.