North West violent protests shut down Botswana border

2017-03-19 06:01
Service-delivery protest in Makgobistad in North West. Picture: Poloko Tau

Service-delivery protest in Makgobistad in North West. Picture: Poloko Tau

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The ANC has itself to blame for the ongoing service-delivery protests, says the governing party’s alliance partner, the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco), after villages surrounding Mahikeng and a border post into Botswana were shut down this whole week owing to violent service-delivery protests.

Run-down roads and lack of consistent water supply appeared to be the most common grievances in these villages. Schooling was also affected in a wave of protests sweeping through Ngaka Modiri Molema district municipality this week that saw workers from Makgobistad village who work or study in Mahikeng trapped. Angry communities blocked the roads between Mahikeng and Vryburg as well as the Lichtenburg road connecting Ventersdorp, Johannesburg and Potchefstroom.

Packet Seaketso, Sanco provincial secretary in North West, blamed “infighting between political officials in government, tender irregularities and poor consultation with communities” for the protests, saying these were the root causes of service-delivery problems in the province. As a result, the political relations with the ANC were seriously strained, such that their civic organisation was considering severing ties.

“The punishment for the ANC is coming in the 2019 elections, unless things change now. If the ANC can’t change in the way they deal with us and get back to the basics of providing better services for our people, then as Sanco in the North West we have no other option but to run solo in 2019,” he said.

“People are looking at officials living the high life and driving big cars while they struggle with basic needs such as water. We have been disregarded in many instances as the alliance partner and soon we’re going to host a provincial leadership meeting where we will decide whether it is still necessary or relevant to work with the ANC in this province,” he said.

Residents also complained about a library that was constructed about six years ago, but remained a white elephant as it was not operational. The contractor, Mothusi Mothusi, said the library could not be used because of an outstanding payment due to him by the municipality.

Community leader Themba Marose said the villages around Makgobistad have heard endless promises of basic service delivery but to no avail, and especially the failure of municipalities to provide reliable water infrastructure.

“We don’t have proper roads ... not even properly maintained gravel roads exist. The tarred road leading into the village is the most potholed road in the whole province,” Marose said.

“The community has waited for decades. We’re not going to rest until someone takes us seriously and responds to our demands, which are for basic rights such as water,” he said.

In Makgobistad village, the road leading to Bray from Mahikeng and a border post into Botswana were also blocked by angry residents demanding road upgrades and maintenance, among other things. Several police and private vehicles were pelted with stones and damaged.

Seaketso said Sanco warned the ANC in the province that it couldn’t ignore communities forever and that he had foreseen the escalation of service-delivery protests in the province, including at least four big ones in Ngaka Modiri Molema district municipality this week.

The media was barred from speaking to protesters at Blydeville township in Lichtenburg where several foreigner-owned shops were looted during this week’s violent protests. A resident known only as Lionel said: “People are really angry that we are stuck in poor living conditions and all we hear in the news is that money will be spent on erecting a statue for President Jacob Zuma.

“Why spend money on a statue when people are still struggling to get proper sanitation or access to water? Who takes priority here: a Zuma statue or the people?” he said.

The protester was referring to media reports that the North West government was planning to erect an estimated R6 million statue for Zuma in Groot Marico where he was arrested 52 years ago.

The provincial government has since refuted the reported amount, saying the number six was misconstrued as it was related to the height of the statue in metres.

But they would not say how much was to be spent on the project, which is already out on tender.

Back in Makgobistad, youth leader Obusitse Tlhabudugwane said they had met with Mayor Justice Makolomakwa who accepted the community’s memorandum of demands.

“The mayor was given seven working days to respond. We are clearing the roads and opening for traffic from [Friday], but we will not hesitate to go back to the streets if our government continues to ignore us,” Tlhabudugwane said.

The North West provincial government has condemned violent protests where property was damaged.

“The provincial government calls on communities to desist from violent protests as they reverse the gains made so far in the local government sector. We call on the community of Blydeville not to allow criminal elements to target businesses owned by foreign nationals because this is against the law,” said provincial government spokesperson Brian Setswambung.

“The local government and human settlement department  is currently providing support to municipalities that experience challenges so they are able to deliver on the service delivery needs of communities. This intervention puts in place immediate, short term and medium term measures that are mitigating the existing challenges in municipalities such as Ratlou and Ditsobotla.”

On water issues raised by the protesting community of Makgobistad, Setswambung said: “Sedibeng Water was on site at Makgobistad and only managed to fix one borehole because they were chased away by the community. They need to be given a chance to do their work in resolving the water challenge.

“The memorandum submitted to the municipality by residents of Ratlou is receiving attention and the municipality will provide feedback as soon. as possible.”

* This article was amended on March 20 2017 to include the provincial government's response to the situation.



Read more on:    north west  |  service delivery protests

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
Partner Content
How data is changing investments

Technological disruption is rife in many spheres of business and given the quantity of data available, it’s no surprise that the way in which asset managers work is also changing fast.

Behind the sparkle

Alluring, beautiful and timeless - diamonds are some of the most sought after gems in the world and are a true testament of everlasting brilliance. Let us take you behind the sparkle to show you the history behind this coveted jewel.

/News
 

How to get rid of fleas

Before you call in the pricey exterminators, try this DIY approach that promises to get your flea problem under control.

 
 

Paws

12 Cool cat facts
Chocolate can be fatal for dogs
Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Do you know what you are feeding your dog?
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.