Ficksburg prepares for rolling mass action

2011-05-11 10:49

Free State Ficksburg is expected to come to a standstill on Friday when residents of Meqheleng township march on the council to demand the resignation of the municipal administration.

The small Free State town was the site of violent protests last month after community leader Andries Tatane was assaulted and shot by police during a march to protest against poor service delivery in the area.

Tatane died from injuries sustained in the attack, sparking an outbreak of running street battles between youths and police.

At a meeting attended by thousands of residents at the Meqheleng Community Hall last night, the community vowed to press ahead with the march even though the the municipality did not grant permission for the march.

The Meqheleng Concerned Citizens (MCC), the group formed to represent community dissatisfaction over service delivery, has already written letters to local businesspeople alerting them to the planned march and also requesting them to release employees to join the protest on Friday.

MCC official Tseliso Mpekoa said the police and traffic departments had given the march the go-ahead, but the Setsoto Local Municipality had refused to grant permission.

Mpekoa said residents want their concerns, which include the firing and suspension of municipal officials found to be responsible for the service delivery challenges in the area, to be heard and implemented.

The provincial department of local government under MEC Mamiki Qabathe has set up a commission of inquiry to look into the problems in the municipality.

Residents have demanded that the commission report back within seven working days, but the department has indicated that they will report back to the community after 14 working days which falls on May 17 – the eve of the local government elections.

The MCC has rejected the date, saying it might impact negatively on the elections in the area, should the community not agree with the outcomes.“We are not fighting with government.

We do not want to disrupt the election.

All what we want is for our concerns to be addressed,” said Mpekoa.

He said the MCC was apolitical and would not influence residents as to which party they should vote for.Most residents interviewed by City Press yesterday said they will not be voting.

SA Human Rights Commission head Advocate Mothusi Lepheana addressed the meeting last night, telling residents that the commission supported their right to march.

Lepheana was locked in a meeting with municipality officials this morning in a bid to resolve the matter.

Previous attempts to meet with officials, Lepheana said, was met with “arrogance”.

Residents were adamant that they will proceed with the march, regardless of whether the municipality grants permission or not.

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