The reasons behind the riots

2013-01-22 00:00

SASOLBURG — All roads lead to Parys because it is Free State Premier Ace Magashule’s “kingdom”.

That is the feeling of residents of Sasolburg, who have been rioting for two days over the proposed merger of the Sasolburg (Metsimaholo) and Parys (Ngwathe) municipalities, said an activist.

Residents say they have heard that Parys will be the seat of the council, if the merger takes place.

“The premier will be lynched if he comes to Sasolburg now, the people are so angry. And if he comes, he must bring the whole Metsimaholo council with him so they can tell us why they want to merge with Ngwathe,” said Lucky Malebu, chair of the Concerned Citizens of Metsimaholo.

“The big question is why? Until now no one from the council had come to speak to us or inform us, even with everything that is going on here,” Malebu said.

Some staff in the Fezile Dabi District Municipality have been told their offices are moving to Parys, strengthening rumours that Parys will be the seat of the new council.

Sister paper Volksblad learnt from a reliable source, who did not want to be named “because things are at a sensitive stage”, that the Metsimaholo council has not voted on the proposal. “They just wanted to force the idea through.”

Opponents of the merger appear to believe that it is driven by a desire for bigger salaries. If the two councils merge, the new council would become a metro and staff and councillors would command higher salaries.

Malebu said residents were angry that there had been no public consultation beforehand.

“If they had come to ask us, we would have said we didn’t want it.”

At a meeting at the Zamdela stadium on Sunday, shortly before the violence broke out, people asked for answers. Metsimaholo councillors were invited.

Magashule’s spokesperson, Wisani Ngobeni, said the premier would not visit the area to address the people because it was a local issue.

The Municipal Demarcation Board is considering the proposed merger and is expected to make a decision by March. It will hold public hearings in February.

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