Stores Close as South African Opposition Party Leads National Shutdown to Protest Energy Crisis

South Africa’s second-largest opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led a national shutdown on Monday, March 20, in protest at the country’s energy crisis.

By Monday morning, 87 people had been arrested across South Africa in connection with the shutdown, according to local media, citing Police Minister Bheki Cele.

“Most were found making fires, blocking roads and trying to prevent people from going to work. They were not peaceful,” Cele was widely quoted as saying.

Ahead of the shutdown, the EFF’s leader, Julius Malema, told supporters “no one can stop a revolution”, as he called on them to occupy streets and demand South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa resign over an ongoing energy crisis that has led to rolling blackouts.

In response to the shutdown, police called up reserves, and put additional protection around government buildings, according to local reports.

In a statement, Ramaphosa warned protesters that the demonstrations “do not give anyone the right to harass, intimidate or threaten anyone else”.

Footage by Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi, a founding member of the EFF and member of the National Assembly, shows numerous stores closed in the city of Rustenburg, in South Africa’s North West province. Credit: Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi via Storyful