Angry youths confront premier on campaign trail

2011-05-12 12:40

Free State premier Ace Magashule came face to face with the broiling anger of residents of Ficksburg’s Meqheleng township during an election campaign yesterday.

There were concerns that Magashule’s visit to the township could incite violent behaviour from residents who have been at loggerheads with the local ANC-led Setsoto local municipality over service delivery issues.

Residents are planning to march on the municipality offices tomorrow to demand the resignation of the administration.

Some of their complaints include lack of a reliable water supply, poor roads and sewerage maintenance, elimination of the bucket system, corruption and nepotism among municipal officials.

There were no violent incidents during Magashule’s visit, but at Masaleng section he was confronted by angry youths demanding answers.

Magashule spent more than half an hour engaging with the angry youths who told him they wanted the keys to the municipality building.

“We can give you the keys to the municipal building, we can give you that, then what?

There is no need to fight.

You can fight but at some point you will need to sit down and talk,” Magashule told the group.One of the youths, Ishmael Mono, said he did not see the need to vote because the promises of the previous elections were not met.

“I asked him why he had taken so long to come here and he did not give me a satisfactory answer,” Mono told City Press.Another youth, Godfrey Theoha, asked Magashule why he should vote for him because he had not had a toilet for the past eight years.

Magashule told the youths he understood their anger and asked them to give the ANC “just one more chance in this election”.Magashule kicked off his campaign by visiting the home of slain community leader Andries Tatane.

He said he was warmly received by the family and that the purpose of the visit was to show them support.During his door-to-door campaigning in Section 1, Magashule visited the home of Flora Vollenhoven, Tatane’s cousin.

Vollenhoven said her cousin’s death had not changed her allegiance to the ANC and that she would continue to support and vote for the organisation.

Magashule said the visit had helped him understand the challenges residents of the township faced daily and acknowledged that certain service providers were failing government and that some municipal workers “were not doing their work”.

He said government would conduct a provincial audit of municipalities after the election in a bid to understand the challenges faced by municipalities.

Magashule also said the task team appointed to look into problems in the Setsoto municipality would continue working in the area for the next six months.

He said he would also try to engage the Meqheleng Concerned Citizens, the community group that has been leading the service delivery protests in the township.

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