'Expect more mayhem'

2013-08-08 00:00

PROTESTERS from parts of Richmond have threatened to make the small town ungovernable if their demand for the council’s executive committee (Exco) to be replaced is not met.

The group has embarked on a series of purported service delivery strikes in the town. However, it was made clear at a meeting on Tuesday night that they wanted Mayor Andrew Ragavaloo, Speaker Thulani Shabalala and councillor Douglas Kunene replaced. Shots were fired at Ragavaloo’s house after a previous community meeting on July 22.

The protesters were called to a meeting with regional ANC leaders and the executive committee members on Tuesday night.

ANC regional secretary Supa Zuma said the meeting became “robust” when residents saw that the party’s regional executive committee was not going to accede to their demand for Ragavaloo and his colleagues to be sacked.

Zuma said a number of allegations were made about the councillors. “We said we could not dismiss people based on allegations that were not backed up, and if anyone had proof, they were welcome to bring it forward. We were told to do our own investigation,” he said.

Zuma said the crowd became rowdy when the regional delegation did not give in to this demand.

With Zuma at the meeting were ANC Moses Mabhida region chairperson Alpha Shelembe and other local ANC leaders, including Finance MEC Ina Cronjé.

Zuma said the delegation had gone to Richmond to learn the residents’ grievances and decide how they could be resolved.

“The issue of the taxi fare increase came up and we explained that negotiations had been held with the taxi industry and those increases were not going to be implemented,” he said.

The community also complained of the conduct of police sent to the town to monitor the protests, saying they were too rough on people. Zuma said the ANC would address the issue with the police service.

Residents also had service delivery grievances. “In this respect we found that there was a lack of communication between the ward councillor and the residents. Many of the things they complained about were already being taken care of.”

Zuma said the crowd got angry when their final grievance — the removal of the Exco — was addressed and accused the ANC leaders of not being interested in their plight.

“The leadership was very firm. We said we would investigate if the allegations could be substantiated.”

ANC insiders said they were convinced that the complaints against the Exco members concerned a power struggle in the town and were not about service delivery issues.

“This is one faction within the council trying to unseat the other,” said an ANC member who would not be named.

Negotiations within the community, facilitated by the ANC leaders, would continue.

Yesterday, the protesting residents joined staff at a local supermarket who were on strike after being locked out of work following failed wage negotiations.

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