AfriForum and Opinor release comprehensive discussion paper on civil disobedience

The civil rights organisation AfriForum and its affiliated think tank Opinor today released a discussion paper that aims to provide a legible framework, both theoretical and practical, for the engagement of a civil disobedience campaign. The paper draws on international experts, and is written specific to the South African political context. It addresses the institutional knowledge of the prevailing players and the historical narratives available. The paper furthermore elaborates on various strategies that could be followed with regard to civil disobedience campaigns.

Ernst Roets, executive chairperson at Opinor and also Head of Policy and Action at AfriForum, says that the purpose of the paper is to provide insight into the broader issue of civil disobedience. “This is not to say that AfriForum will embark on a civil disobedience campaign. We have however noticed that civil disobedience has become an increasingly contemporary phenomenon in South Africa.” Recent examples of civil disobedience in South Africa include, but are not limited to, citizens refusing to pay e-toll, and citizens disobeying lockdown regulations that they regard as irrational. Roets also warned today that civil protest will become more prevalent in the future.

The paper was written by Rob Duigan, researcher for Opinor.

Civil disobedience is a specific political strategy, underpinned by specific conceptions of political power and legitimacy. But to be executed successfully, a civil disobedience campaign relies on a broader political movement, and a complex decentralised social support system. Therefore, tactics and strategy are examined according to the empirical track record.

The report outlines:

1.         Theory of disobedience

2.         Ethics of disobedience

3.         Praxis such as practical guides, social movement, elite theory, the empirical success of non-violent tactics, media, and tax revolts.

4.         South Africa today

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