Who is fooling who?

2018-07-25 06:00
A large group of members of the Sol Plaatje community at a meeting on Sunday (22/07) to plan a way forward regarding the shut-down marches held in Kimberley.Photo: Boipelo Mere

A large group of members of the Sol Plaatje community at a meeting on Sunday (22/07) to plan a way forward regarding the shut-down marches held in Kimberley.Photo: Boipelo Mere

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The Sol Plaatje community’s shut-down marches have sparked a battle between the community and the ANC in the Frances Baard Region, as the region rallies to save the situation that has already got out of hand.

This has become evident following a clash between two groups at Sunday’s (22/07) community meeting, which has set tongues wagging as to who is fooling who.

Concerns are raised about who has the people’s best interest at heart, and whether the recent shut downs are indeed a political battle.

The meeting was organised to plan a way forward to force Mangaliso Matika, Sol Plaatje mayor, out of office. He is under fire for failing to permanently axe Goolam Akharwaray, municipal mana­ger, and Lydia Matlhoko, chief financial officer, who are being accused of corruption.

By the time of going to print, the date of the next complete shut-down march in Kimberley had still not been confirmed, but apparently it would be between Wednesday (25/07) and Friday (27/07). The community had to meet with organisers to confirm a date.

This strike would follow two big protest marches in Kimberley, held within two months.

After the first peaceful march, which yielded positive results (as the municipality did not implement an additional R260 basic charge on electricity for households), it turned ugly on Thursday, 12 July, during the second march.

This peaceful march turned violent, with damage being done to property, arrests being made, the police shooting rubber bullets and Galeshewe’s R.C. Elliot Hall being torched.

On Sunday, a factional group accused of being supporters of Matika arrived chanting and singing, disrupting the meeting. Police had to use stun grenades to control the situation, resulting in the group being separated from the meeting and being monitored, while the meeting proceeded.

Tebogo Obusitse of Operation Wanya Tsotsi had, before the meeting, announced the existence of this particular group, and requested that they be waited upon.

The ANC branches have taken a firm stance in defence of the mayor and have condemned the marches, claiming that the “vulnerable and uninformed” community was being used to fight internal ANC battles.

They accused the organisers of the marches of a smear campaign and game-changing tactics to score points in the upcoming ANC provincial conference.

“What started out as something good, which was a protest against the R260 electricity hike, has become ugly,” said Gloria Peter­sen of Ward 1.

They plan further engagement between the party (at branch level), organisers and the community to find a way forward.

“The mayor can only be removed in an ANC constitutional manner and Matika has no authority of hiring or firing the municipal manager,” emphasised Frikkie Banda of Ward 2.

The branch members, who said they represented all 32 wards, lashed out against Matika’s positive role being clouded by negativity in the community.

“We cannot just remove him for his character,” said Lebang Maraba of Ward 13.

According to community member Tumelo Mosikare, the problem of high electricity tariffs dated back to 2016, when the SACP had marched to the municipality and nothing was done.

Community members have vowed that there is no more turning back, as they have decided to deal with the municipality and “rotten” officials and will no longer have engagements.

Meanwhile, the DA has submitted a formal request to Ben Springbok, acting speaker of the Sol Plaatje Municipality, for a special council meeting to table a motion of exigency to remove the mayor.

According to DA Chief Whip Christopher Phiri, the motion has support from a multi-party collective, comprising the DA, ANC, FF Plus and an independent councillor representing Ritchie.

“The multi-party support is a clear indication that Matika’s popularity has declined, even within the ranks of the ANC,” said Phiri.

“Most importantly, he no longer has the support of residents of the municipality to continue in his position as mayor.”

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