By-South Africa’s former President Thabo Mbeki warned that the country faces the danger of protests similar to those that toppled governments in the Arab world a decade ago unless it addresses growing lawlessness and inequality.
Mbeki led South Africa immediately after Nelson Mandela stepped down in 1999.
Mbeki, according to Bloomberg, criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa for failing to deliver on a pledge he made on February 10 to provide a comprehensive social compact to boost economic growth within 100 days. The plan has yet to be announced.
Arab Spring was a wave of pro-democracy protests and uprisings that took place in the Middle East and North Africa beginning in 2010 and 2011, challenging some of the region’s entrenched authoritarian regimes.
The wave began when protests in Tunisia and Egypt toppled their regimes in quick succession, inspiring similar attempts in other Arab countries.
Not every country saw success in the protest movement, however, and demonstrators expressing their political and economic grievances were often met with violent crackdowns by their countries’ security forces.
South Africa’s economy has been going receding in recent years mainly because the country’s three major macroeconomic problems – slim economic growth, growing inflation, and very high unemployment, have been exacerbated by a series of major disruptions.
These include the COVID pandemic, floods, violence that erupted in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which is pushing up food prices.
Mbeki’s statements could be seen as a direct incitement to violence from xenophobic South Africans.