Vuwani set to erupt

2017-04-02 08:20
Schooling was supposed to have started after a two week shutdown following violent protests which saw over twenty schools burnt down,this was in protest against the incorporation of the area into a new municipality. Pic: Felix Dlangamandla

Schooling was supposed to have started after a two week shutdown following violent protests which saw over twenty schools burnt down,this was in protest against the incorporation of the area into a new municipality. Pic: Felix Dlangamandla

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Police presence has escalated in Vuwani amid expectations of a fresh wave of protests after residents suffered yet another defeat in their battle to be reincorporated into the Thulamela municipality in Limpopo.

An official announcement is expected to be made at a community meeting today, which could see the area erupt into more protests.

Community, religious and traditional leaders have this week expressed their disappointment at the Municipal Demarcation Board’s decision to reject the community’s appeal, saying they were sold false hope by government officials who intervened during last year’s violent protests that left more than 25 schools either damaged or razed to the ground.

Another shutdown may see pupils from several villages clustered under Vuwani losing more class time. Almost four months of learning and teaching were lost during last year’s shutdown.

Pupils returned to damaged classrooms when school reopened after last year’s local government elections.

Intentions to protest were triggered after the Municipal Demarcation Board wrote to traditional leaders in response to their resubmission to have the Vuwani area’s demarcation reconsidered. Included in their reasons for declining the appeal was the fact that the 2015 decision of redemarcation – which saw areas of Vuwani now incorporated into the new municipality formed together with areas around Malamulele – had been upheld in court.

Board chairperson Jane Thupana said in the letter that “all avenues available to the communities to review the board’s decision have been exhausted”.

“I can confirm that the board will be embarking on a project to address technical boundary misalignment later in the year and any such cases in your area will be investigated as part of that national project.”

Members of the Pro-Makhado Demarcation Task Team promised this week that they were ready to lay down their lives in their bid to have Vuwani areas removed from the new municipal entity known as Lim345 and be returned to Makhado and Thulamela municipalities.

“The government and state organs should be reminded of the words of wisdom by our late struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada when he said, ‘Freedom did not fall from the sky, but was fought for with blood, sweat and tears’. Should the people of Vuwani be forced to fight for their freedom from this democratic slavery, they will do so through blood, sweat and tears,” the task team said on Thursday.

“[Because of] the government commitment during the time of the Vuwani crisis, the communities were made to believe and hope for the possibilities.”

Traditional leaders led by Chief Nthumeni Masia reiterated this: “Government engaged affected communities before the local government elections and made an undertaking, through a memorandum of agreement, to be part of the solution to the problem.

“The people of Vuwani, Mulenzhe and Tshikonelo in particular were made to believe that the possibility existed within the context of government and political leaders’ commitment to [re-evaluate] the matter with a view to resolve it in the best interest of the affected communities.”

With protests now on the cards, Dean Rantshideni from the religious leaders’ group said this week: “We request for peace and calm in the area, but it will depend on how well the Municipal Demarcation Board and government in the province address this matter from now on.

“Our position is clear, we are for peace ... that is what we preach as pastors, but we cannot control the masses in case they happen to get out of hand.

"And this is the reason we say it will depend on the leaders of government and the demarcation board on how they address this issue.”

Meanwhile, Limpopo police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said police from other parts of the province had been deployed to Vuwani for normal crime operations.

He said more police would be sent in when the need arises.

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Read more on:    vuwani  |  education  |  protests

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