Category Archives: George Matlala

City Press: Zuma fiddles as SA townships burn

2010-03-14 14:00

Zuma fiddles as SA townships burn

By George Matlala, Tokiso Molefe,
Suné Kitshoff and Johan Eybers

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma is trying to extinguish factionalism in the tripartite alliance as open rebellion takes place across the country.

Townships are ablaze as the number of protests outstrips previous years while ratepayers’ organisations boycott payments and arrange their own refuse collection.

Although the ANC national executive committee (NEC) was meeting in Kempton Park in Ekurhuleni ­yesterday, they had not discussed the protests and boycotts by the time City Press went to print.

Jackson Mthembu, the ANC spindoctor, said on Friday the NEC spent the day discussing the state of relations within the tripartite alliance – made up of the governing party, the SA Communist Party and ­labour federation Cosatu – and how unhappy Zuma was about the ­conduct of party leaders.

Mthembu did not speak about the violent protests that flared up in Gauteng this week and the fact that courts had given residents in 24 towns the right not to pay their ­municipal bills if local authorities failed to deliver services.

Commenting on the “watershed court ruling”, National Ratepayers Union (NRU) chair Jaap Kelder said residents who withheld municipal rates and taxes now knew their ­actions were valid.
But Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka warned NRU members that parallel governments were illegal.

These taxpayers, he said, were ­going to face expensive court action.

Shiceka’s deputy Yunus Carrim took a more conciliatory stance and said municipalities should negotiate rather than fight with residents.

“We are more than aware of the fact that they have had enough of bad service delivery and that their complaints fall on deaf ears.”

In a massive show of no-confidence in the government, communities in the Free State, Limpopo and North West decided to collect refuse themselves.

The National Council of Provinces’ select committee for cooperative governance and traditional affairs went to see for themselves, and ­discovered that the municipalities under administration in the Free State were in a shambles.

Humphrey Mokgobi, the committee’s chair, said they would visit ­municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng this week to address slack municipal management.

“We have to be ruthless,” he said.

In Gauteng, protests took place in Mamelodi, Atteridgeville, Soweto, Sharpeville, Finetown and Soshanguve. In the Free State, ­municipal services ground to a halt in Qwa Qwa and Bothaville.

The protesters in Soweto had apparently been on a waiting list since 1996. Elderly women, some with grandchildren on their backs, carried tyres to the road for burning.

“I live in a one-roomed shack with six children in Emndeni. I am going to die before I live in my own house,” protester Sesana Ngobeni (70) said.

“I am living in a house where I pay R800 every month. My landlords sent their son and his wife to share my space but the rent is still the same. These rubber bullets do not scare me. I’ll be back tomorrow.”

Jerry Mnguni, a resident of ­Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, who also took part in this week’s service delivery protest, said: “We can’t live in these conditions any more. We want change now.”

– City Press