‘Black week’ for Zuma case

2008-07-23 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG residents and businesses should brace themselves for a “black week” as a series of planned protests threaten to bring the city to a standstill for three days in the first week of August.

This is the stern warning issued this week by the SA Communist Party (SACP) in uMgungundlovu, one of the parties masterminding the planned economic shutdown.

The protests have been planned to coincide with ANC president Jacob Zuma’s scheduled appearance at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on August 4 and 5 and with the Cosatu-led national protest against escalating food and fuel prices scheduled for August 6.

SACP district secretary Matthews Ndlovu said the SACP, Cosatu and the ANC have received the backing of the KZN Taxi Council and the Transport Alliance.

This will ensure that the shutdown is effective, as public transport will stop, he said.

“[We are] calling all Pietermaritzburg people who are outside the city to either come back home before August 3 or to remain where they are until after the sixth as it will be very difficult to get in and out of the city during this tense period,” the SACP said.

The SACP, Cosatu and ANC are calling for the withdrawal of charges against Zuma.

The SACP threatened to do “anything possible” to ensure that the charges are withdrawn

When asked to elaborate on this, Ndlovu said: “All we can say is that we are prepared to do anything possible. I cannot say what that is, lest I be hauled before the Human Rights Commission.”

He added: “We call on the NPA to do the country a very reasonable favour by withdrawing the charges laid against the president of our movement before it is too late. This is not in any way a threat, but a real warning.”

Andrew Layman, the chief executive of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Commerce, warned that all Pietermaritzburg businesses could suffer a “huge knock” if taxi operators decide to take part in the planned protests.

“If the taxis do not operate on those days, this will mean that business even outside the city centre will suffer a huge knock as people will struggle to get to work, as happened with the previous Cosatu strike,” Layman told The Witness.

The ANC has said a number of campaigns are set to take place in the city, including night vigils. Tripartite Alliance heavyweights are set to accompany Zuma to court.

bmbanjwa@witness.co.za

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