Vukile Dlwati24 May 2024 | 14:42

Elections 2024: SA’s intelligence ‘prepared’ for any violent disruptions - ISS

This week, the Constitutional Court ruled that former statesman, Jacob Zuma, would not be allowed to run for public office. After this, the First Rand Group issued a security threat notice.

Elections 2024: SA’s intelligence ‘prepared’ for any violent disruptions - ISS

FILE: Public Order Policing unit at a protest. Picture: Veronica Makhoali/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG – Five days before some 27 million South Africans cast their votes to form the seventh Parliament, the upcoming polls, set for 29 May 2024, have not been without tussles and fear-mongering.

But the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) does not anticipate widespread violence prior to and during the general elections.

This week, the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruled that former statesman, Jacob Zuma, would not be allowed to run for public office and represent the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party in the National Assembly.


After the ConCourt judgment, the First Rand Group issued a security threat notice.

"Protest action to voice dissatisfaction with Zuma not being permitted to contest in the election could take place nationwide during May/June 2024. There is an increased risk of attempts to disrupt the 2024 National and Provincial Elections on 29/05/2024, likely by supporters of Zuma.

"The risk for intimidation, malicious damage to property, arson, barricading of roads, looting, hijacking of trucks as well as clashes between members/supporters of the MK Party, opposing political parties and with authorities is high, should demonstrations take place,” reads the First Rand Group’s security notice.

The report’s findings are reminiscent of the July 2021 unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal that resulted in over 400 deaths and billions of rands worth of infrastructure destruction. 

The turmoil played out shortly after Zuma was handed a 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court.

However, the South African Human Rights Commission could not draw parallels between Zuma’s incarceration and the unrest.


The ISS’ Dr Jakkie Cilliers said that the latest ConCourt decision on Zuma “will not really have a huge impact [on elections]”.

“He was never intending to go to Parliament himself. In any case, I think, and he still remains the face of the party. So, I don't think that's really much of an issue. 

“And my impression also is that given the experiences with the July 2021 events, the police and the military in the security establishment are very well attuned to the associated problems, they seem to have identified various hotspots.”

Meanwhile, political analyst, Sanusha Naidu, is cautious about the upcoming polls.

“I am wary that this election won’t have any disruptions… with KZN, I have been hearing that people are preparing, those who were heavily affected by the July unrest are preparing. They are roping in their private security. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see more private security in KZN. They are going to get gun-happy.”

Naidu said the upcoming elections are reminiscent of the “raw” and “uncertain” first democratic polls when she was a university student.

“I see a lot of parallels with 1994 now, maybe it’s because we are in the 30-year context.”

Cilliers further said the hotspots identified by the state’s intelligence should not be sticky.

“I guess there is a small chance that there could be challenges with the announcement of the results, which I think MK probably nationwide is going to do worse than what of course the MK guys and women think that it's going to do and there's, I guess, a challenge around that.
“So maybe there'll be a few marches and so forth… I don't think that there is a concern about widespread violence even in KwaZulu-Natal. So, I'm confident that the security establishments are on top of the situation and have prepared.”


Last Sunday, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) assured citizens that a national security assessment had been conducted.

NATJOINTS chairperson, Lieutenant General Tebello Mosikili, said: “We are satisfied with the operational plan that is currently being implemented, and can assure South Africans that a conducive environment for a peaceful election has been prepared.”

It was also revealed that members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) would be on standby, but SANDF Major-General Mninimzi Sizani was hush about the number of soldiers to be deployed.

Added Mosikili: “All I can reiterate here is that we are not a country at war. We are a country that is having an enduring peace. SANDF has prepared and will be prepared to deploy when required by the police.”