Marchers threaten city chaos

2011-06-18 00:00

MORE than 1 000 anti-corruption protesters marched through Pietermaritzburg yesterday and threatened to render the city ungovernable if certain councillors are not removed.

They gave Msunduzi Deputy Mayor Alpha Shelembe and his fellow ANC regional executive committee (REC) members an ultimatum: step down by the end of June, or face an ungovernable city.

The protesters brought midday traffic to a standstill as they sang “Down with thieves who steal from ratepayers, disguised as ANC members, bringing the Msunduzi Municipality down to the ground.”

Premier Zweli Mkhize also came under attack, with the crowd chanting ‘Zweliwamathenda’ (Zweli of the tenders).

The premier was criticised for not acting swiftly to rein in the REC and prevent it from claiming leadership positions in the local councils.

Said ANC activist Nana Mnandi, who spoke on behalf of protesters who are staging a sit-in at the ANC offices in Jabu Ndlovu Street, “We will make the city ungovernable if our concerns about corruption are not addressed.”

The protesters demanded that Shelembe be recalled as deputy mayor along with other councillors who were serving in Msunduzi when it collapsed.

In Msunduzi members of the REC deployed themselves as councillors.

The protesters also want the outcomes of investigations into both Msunduzi and uMngeni municipalities to be made public within 14 days.

Sifiso Basil Cele, KZN Cosatu deputy chairperson, said taxpayers’ money was used to carry out the investigations and taxpayers therefore have a right to know the outcome.

While protesters remain determined not to give up, many are pinning their hopes on ANC national minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and her task team to put an end to the impasse in Pietermaritzburg.

Dlamini-Zuma’s seven-person task team was set up to sort out problems stemming from the way in which certain factions controlled the selection of candidates to be listed as ANC councillors.

Weekend Witness learnt yesterday that the task team extended its visit by over a week. The team is still in town and is due to meet representatives from Cosatu and the SA Communist Party today.

The protesters delivered a memorandum, which read in part: “Today after elections, we stand insulted as people of Pietermaritzburg.

“Some of the very people who caused trouble [and] were at the helm when the municipality collapsed have been re-invited to serve in the council.

“This is the worst insult ever and at best an act of trivialising the collapse of the municipality … As an alliance we take a dim view of the re-deployment of these councillors, including as a specific and most urgent case the deployment of the former council speaker Alpha Shelembe as the deputy mayor.”

Earlier yesterday Edendale residents blocked roads with burning tyres protesting against unpopular councillors.

Meanwhile police confirmed that investigations into arson at the ANC regional offices are continuing.

Themba Mbona, who was convicted this week for the deed, said Shelembe had bribed him to do it.

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