A take-away from EFF protest action

The media must report scenes of protest and violence where it takes place. It will be entirely inappropriate not to do so. The effect hereof, unfortunately, is that a single incident by the EFF is engraved in the minds of viewers and the perception created that what is viewed plays out on a national scale; and this is the EFF’s fuel. 

That, however, is not necessarily a bad thing; not that giving the EFF fuel can ever be a good thing. Giving them and their shenanigans airtime, cannot be avoided. Not giving them airtime is the worst thing news agencies can do. South Africans need to know what they are up to. That is how they are exposed. Every time the EFF’s leader appears on the big screen or on social media, they win a few supporters, but lose many more.

Threats of violence, as was the case before today’s call for nationwide protest action, does effect business. It places business in a predicament. If you protect yourself against looters and somebody gets injured or even gets killed, you, as the business owner may find yourself in a jail cell tonight; and you may be there for quite some time. And your life might be hell for years thereafter.

So, depending on the area in which your business is situated, you might adopt a pragmatic approach and close your business for the day. Is this done out of fear? No! Does that mean you support the EFF’s cause? Of course not! It is simply a logical arrangement to ensure that, come tomorrow morning, you still have a business and your freedom.

Employees predominantly also made pragmatic decisions. Although some may have abused the occasion, the majority, where possible, turned up for work or made prior alternative arrangements. 

What is the take-away from today? In certain isolated areas the EFF got some support. Overall, their call for support and threats were a resounding failure: 76% of businesses remained open. 70% of these businesses experienced less than 10% absenteeism. 

South Africans, from all walks of life, do not support the EFF or those woven from the same cloth. By far the majority of South Africans want a meaningful life, lived in peace, for them and their children. They know the EFF does not represent such a future.

By Gerhard Papenfus, Chief Executive of the National Employers' Association of South Africa (NEASA).