Cops monitor situation after community goes on rampage over ‘imposed’ ANC candidate

2013-11-27 17:08

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Police are monitoring the situation after angry community members near Nelspruit blockaded roads in protest against a candidate imposed by the ANC.

Residents of Ward 21 B in Pienaar near Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, accused the ANC’s Ehlanzeni region of preventing their preferred candidate from standing in the by-election, which is also contested by an independent candidate backed by Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

Police dispersed the protesters this morning, but they had already caused chaos as commuters could not travel to their workplaces in Nelspruit.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Colonel Leonard Hlathi said no one was arrested and there was no damage to property.

“We’re monitoring the situation until the voting stations close tonight,” Hlathi said.

A Ward 21B ANC member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the residents were peeved because the ANC region wanted Isaac Tlou to represent them, even though he was from the neighbouring Lekazi township.

He said the ANC branch executive committee and the residents of the ward wanted Happy Nkosi to stand, but the regional executive committee (REC) said Nkosi had failed an interview.

“What interview? This is an excuse by the REC to have their own person as councillor. This region doesn’t respect us and people are likely to boycott the by-election or vote for the independent candidate (Lorraine Twala),” the member said.

He warned the residents could still disrupt voting before the stations close at 9pm.

ANC provincial secretary Lucky Ndinisa was not available to comment.

This is the second complaint against the REC in two weeks. Last week ANC veteran and former United Democratic Movement (UDM) legislature member Joe Nkuna resigned in a huff and defected to the EFF after the community in Ward 21A in Lekazi nominated him to stand but the REC preferred Tlou.

Both Ward 21A and Ward 21B must be represented by one councillor in the Mbombela council.

Asked about Nkuna’s resignation yesterday, Ndinisa said it was a matter he would investigate.

SACP provincial secretary Bonakele Majuba also warned yesterday this behaviour would make communities hostile to the ANC.

No incidents were reported at Mkhondo (Piet Retief), Emalahleni (Witbank), Thaba Chweu (Sabie) and Nelspruit where by-elections are taking place today.

Other by-elections are taking place in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West and Northern Cape.

The squabble about candidate councillors is reminiscent of violent protests in various parts of the country in 2011, just before the local government elections, when the ANC decided to involve communities for the first time in choosing councillors to represent them.

ANC leaders were accused of imposing candidate councillors. In Wesselton township near Ermelo, residents staged a violent two-week protest and vandalised government properties after the ANC rejected their preferred candidate, Bongani Phakathi.

Luthuli House responded to these complaints by appointing a task team, led by then national executive committee member Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to investigate irregularities.

Zuma’s team investigated 419 disputes and recommended that processes needed to be started afresh in 125 cases.

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