ANC seeks answers for service-delivery protests amid witch-hunt claims

2014-06-20 17:51

The ANC in Mpumalanga has requested its service- delivery protest task team to submit a preliminary report by next week.

The provincial executive committee (PEC) appointed a seven-member task team in January to probe the spate of protests, which escalated towards the party’s manifesto launch and January 8 statement event that was held in Nelspruit.

The communities of Barberton, Nkomazi, Pienaar and Bushbuckridge staged protests, complaining about water, roads and other services.

The most recent protest took place in Block C, Nkomazi, near Malelane, on Tuesday where residents complained about water cuts.

It was a peaceful protest, unlike in Barberton last week where residents torched councillors’ houses and shops belonging to Pakistani nationals and police were accused of using live ammunition.

Mpumalanga ANC secretary Lucky Ndinisa said the report was expected on Monday next week.

“We want to see which areas will need our urgent attention. The PEC met last week and resolved that our branches need to be proactive in identifying problems in the communities,” Ndinisa said.

“The PEC also resolved that even if there’s an ANC member abusing the democratic right to protest, we will not focus on the individual but on the issues raised,” he added.

Service-delivery protest investigations in the province have largely been interpreted as a witch-hunt against rebellious ANC members.

The formation of the task team, headed by national executive committee member Dikeledi Magadzi, has been widely criticised as a tool to fight factional battles in the ANC.

Those who were summoned to testify before it include PEC member Peter Nyoni, former health MEC Clifford Mkasi and former Ehlanzeni district council speaker Milton Morema.

These ANC members have long been fingered for fuelling protests against Premier David Mabuza.

Nyoni’s testimony, which was leaked to City Press, clearly points to the divisions. He said he was targeted after he differed with the Mabuza group in the PEC.

A government-driven service-delivery protest investigation in 2010 was also labelled as a witch-hunt.

The probe – which was conducted by former defence minister Siphiwe Nyanda’s company, GNS Risk Advisory Services (later renamed Abalozi Security Risk Advisory Services) – cost the cooperative governance and traditional affairs department about R20 million.

The findings of that investigation were never made public.

Mpumalanga accounted for 12% of the 48 service- delivery protests that took place countrywide between January and April this year, according to municipal data and intelligence company Municipal IQ.

The Eastern Cape experienced 23% of the protests, Gauteng had 21%, North West was at 17% and Western Cape at 15%, but none of these provinces have conducted investigations at party level.

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