ANC bigwigs beat a humble retreat as protesters outface them

2011-06-22 00:00

PROVINCIAL ANC bigwigs who descended on the Moses Mabhida regional offices left with their tails between their legs yesterday after trying to engage activists who have staged a sit-in of nearly four weeks.

The activists refused to speak to them, saying the ruling party’s national executive committee (NEC) should deal with their grievances.

The delegation from the provincial executive committee (PEC) that visited the offices included KwaZulu-Natal Premier and ANC chairperson Zweli Mkhize, his deputy in the ANC and KZN Transport MEC, Willies Mchunu, provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala and Education MEC Senzo Mchunu.

Making his way up the stairs to the sit-in, Mkhize was greeted by angry activists outside. One threw a poster at him, forcing his bodyguard to intervene.

The activists shouted: “Away with Senzo and Zweli” before the two leaders could even get inside the office.

A few minutes before, the activists had staged a protest outside the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court, where they demanded the removal of the region’s treasurer and Msunduzi Deputy Mayor, Alpha Shelembe.

Shelembe was appearing in court on allegations that he shared backhanders for the purchase of a building for uMgungundlovu District Municipality.

The activists demanded that Shelembe be arrested for attempted murder and the burning of the ANC regional offices in Jabu Ndlovu Street while they were staging a sit-in on June 11. They called for the removal of Shelembe and his fellow regional executive council (REC) members.

“Shelembe was an IFP activist; that is why it was easy for him to burn offices full of ANC activists,” shouted one.

The provincial delegation went to the offices in their capacity as the provincial task team.

They were met with silence because the protesters declined to air their grievances, saying the province had not listened to them for nearly four weeks and that they want to deal with ANC’s national executive council.

The activists told The Witness that they had agreed among themselves not to voice their concerns in front of the delegation.

However, Sibongile Mkhize, one of the activists leading the sit-in, expressed her unhappiness at the way the provincial ANC leadership had failed to address their concerns.

She complained that she had thought the provincial leadership was there to tell them that they will disband the REC.

Mkhize told the provincial leaders that the protesters will not leave the office until the REC had been disbanded.

Insiders said the provincial task team members told the protesters that their grievances and concerns would be addressed speedily.

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