M&G: ANCYL admits to role in Cape protest


ANCYL admits to role in Cape protest

The ANC Youth League has openly thrown its weight behind continuing service delivery protests in Khayelitsha township, which turned violent when vehicles were stoned and a City of Cape Town bus for the physically disabled was ­petrol-bombed.

While there was initial confusion about who was involved, Andile Lili, the treasurer of the ANC Youth League in the Dullah Omar region, said residents had invited the league to take part in the protests, which took to the streets last weekend.

The barricading of roads in Mew Way in the township’s TR section has disrupted traffic and there have been growing reports of stone-throwing and torching of vehicles.

School children en route to a year-end camp in Villiersdorp were pelted with rocks last Sunday, injuring two.

The ANCYL has come under fire for piggybacking on the protests to weaken the Democratic Alliance’s hold on the Western Cape.

The violence follows last month’s five-day protest against living conditions in townships, including Khayelitsha, organised by social movement Abahlali baseMjondolo. But Msonke Poni, Abahlali’s regional chairperson, said he was concerned about the continuation of the protests and the fact that they were becoming violent.

“The ANC Youth League is behind the protests. We know it is directly involved,” said Poni. “The ANC is simply playing its political hand in the area. We believe it is behind the protests at a regional level.”

But Lili insisted the league’s involvement was not part of the ANC’s campaign for next year’s municipal elections. “We haven’t even started campaigning. We’re leading the people because they have hope in us and we have the energy to fight for them,” he said. “People from formal and informal settlements are joining in because they’ve just had enough of the lack of service delivery and broken promises by the Western Cape government.”

Lili lashed out at Western Cape premier and DA leader Helen Zille, saying it was propaganda that she had been chosen World Mayor in 2008. She was selected because she was white, he said.

‘Better service delivery under the apartheid government’

“We had better service delivery under the apartheid government,” said Lili. “At least it built our people covered toilets. Now, we’re given open-air toilets and a new bucket system. We’re going backwards.”

Lili insisted that the league did not approve of the violence, which arose from anger. A meeting this week would decide whether the protests would continue non-stop for 14 days, he said. In spite of Lili’s open admission of the ANCYL’s role, Luvuyo Hebe, the ANC chairperson in Khayelitsha’s ward 190, denied that the party was involved in organising the protests.

Residents had simply had enough of appalling living conditions, he said. Hebe said he was arrested last week after being wrongly accused of damaging the Khayelitsha community hall. “There was no case against me as I haven’t been involved in the protests,” he said.

However, he did say that the ANC supported the aims of the protest. “The premier is not helping the African people,” he said.

Cape Town mayor Dan Plato agreed that parts of the township stood on sodden, low-lying areas that were not habitable, but he said residents had not heeded council advice to erect shacks on solid ground.

Plato said he had recently met top local leaders, including the Khayelitsha development forum and all ward councillors. “I was told these protests had nothing to do with service delivery, that it was about vigilantism, hooliganism and barbarianism,” he said.

“I was told the metro police and the South African Police Service were not doing enough about the violence.”

Plato said many ward councillors were “living in the shadow of death threats. A créche was closed by the protests the other day. And now a Dial-A-Ride bus for the physically disabled has been burned. How long can the police tolerate it when people throw stones and petrol bombs?”

The Western Cape minister of community safety, the DA’s Albert Fritz, said two people had been arrested on public violence charges and would appear in court shortly.