Monday, February 14, 2011

The freight industry strike got me thinking....Is this country the next Zimbabwe?

The freight industry strike that started yesterday saw truck drivers take the streets, with the (usual) airing of grievances through initimidation, violence and vandalism

The scenes on Joburg's streets probably got the dinner table discussions quite heated, with debates about whether South Africa was headed for doom...with the standard arm chair analysis...

'South Africa is the next Zimbabwe'

The images of violence on Joburg's streets got me thinking about other, similar, images

The events of the past several weeks have presented the world with remarkable images.

Some of those images are inspiring

Many of them, scary

Egypt's (still pending) 'transition' has seen mostly peaceful protests, with footage of tens of thousands of people, united in song, united in prayer, united in celebratory exuberance

There has also been footage of destruction, looting, and murder

Over 300 people have died

The violence in Egypt, while tragic, was, in many circles, anticipated.


A given

The violence, some say, can easily be explained away

After all, Egypt is an Arab country

An African country

Some argue that Egypt is not a civilised, westernised, country

Backward Egypt is no civilised Europe

Egypt is going to the dogs

The images in Egypt remind me of other, recent, violent clashes. Clashes that took place in other parts of the world

In October 2010, France was gripped by terror.

This terror initiated was initiated by protestors who opposed the increase of the retirement age from 60 to 62

City centres bacame war-zones. There were violent clashes between protestors and police. Many people were injured.

Shops were looted.

Property was destroyed

The rule of law.....non-existent


This kind of behaviour was not expected. France is a westernised, developed country, and thriving democracy

The violence and destruction was an anomoly, wasn't it?

Surely this is not the behaviour of civilised Europeans

France is doomed

In November 2010, university students in the UK took to the streets to protests increased tuition fees.

The authorities struggled to control the crowds.

The protests turned violent. Public and private property was vandalised and destroyed.

Police men and women were attacked

Scores were arrested.


The images were disturbing


And then, in December 2010, Prince Charles and Camilla's car was attacked. 20 demonstrators attacked their vehicle, while chanting 'Off with their heads'

Frightened: Prince Charles and Camilla show their fear inside the car as it is attacked by the mob

Surely the people in that country must feel ashamed? I doubt they can explain away their behaviour, considering the UK is a civilised, a westernised, and above all, a moral society

How could things have gone so wrong?

Clearly, the UK has no future

The year ended a little quieter in that part of the world. But, still a little disturbing

In late December 2010, thousands of homes in Northen Ireland had no water supply. Around 40,000 people were left 'water-less' after pipes burst during the freezing weather

People had to collect water from distribution centres, with limits on how many litres each citizen could take

A stand-pipe was installed in north Belfast after the depot ran out of bottled water

That begs the question: How could a developed, western country, not plan sufficiently for aging water pipes? How could the wise Europeans not anticipate the problem, and ensure that the water system was capable of enduring extreme water conditions.

It's apparent, Northen Ireland is on the brink of collapse

The images from Egypt, France, England, Northern Ireland clearly present societies that are in disarray with no clear leadership, or vision.

How could people turn so violent?

How could grievances spur such tragic a violent behaviour?

How could protestors destroy public property and bring countries to a standstill?

How could the police be targeted by these thugs?

How could a prince of a nation be attacked, in public?

I do not know the answer to those questions.


When seeing the scenes of violence, intimidation and vandalism on their streets and on their TV screens, the liberated Egyptian citizens, aggrieved French workers, disenfranchised English youth and thirsty Northern Irish probably didn't say:

''Our country is the next Zimbabwe''

And neither should we

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