DA blames ANC for Potch, Ventersdorp protest

2015-09-12 15:20
Protesters torch a municipal building in Ventersdorp. (News24)

Protesters torch a municipal building in Ventersdorp. (News24)

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Ventersdorp - The DA in the North West on Saturday, blamed the ANC for the violent protests in Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp.

"The vandalism and arson of the Venterdorp local municipal buildings last night [Friday] is a horrible result of the ANC government's neglect and contempt for resident's views, which are opposed to the merger of Tlokwe municipality in Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp municipality," said Juanita Terblanche, DA constituency head, in Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp.

"The ANC cannot shift the blame for the Ventersdorp violence to anyone but themselves. The DA is opposing this merger in the High Court, but never through violence on the streets."

A municipal building and a car were burnt in Ventersdorp on Friday night following a protest march against the merger.

North West police said on Friday night, the torching of the municipal building was not linked to the protest.

Shops were reportedly looted and schooling was disrupted in Ikageng near Potchefstroom during a similar protest.

Terblanche said the ANC-led government and the Municipal Demarcation Board have long given up listening to Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp residents, who clearly feared the amalgamation but had no say in the critical decision.

"Participatory democracy and the values of people-centred government have been destroyed by the ANC in the North West."

She said the DA condemned the looting of buildings and violence during protests.

The ANC said the protest was unnecessary.

"The ANC believes that this march to Tlokwe was unnecessary and an exercise in adventurism. We further view it as a provocative and attention-seeking stunt not designed to address the issues it purports," said Hoffman Galeng, ANC Chief Whip in the North West provincial legislature.

"We view this as an arrogant attack on our movement and a disrespect of the democratic order which seeks to establish and maintain political stability and tolerance in our country; more disturbing is that this extremely provocative behaviour, a few months before our local government elections which we as the African National Congress, are committed to i[them] being free, fair and peaceful."

Galeng said the ANC had noted the intention by the DA to drag the MDB to court over the merger.

"In the history of this institution [MDB] it had been at the forefront of ensuring that the local government system works. Towards this end many municipalities have merged to consolidate their revenue base and to address the problem of non-viable municipalities to ensure that communities in those municipalities are not left behind in terms of the delivery of basic services."

Calculated rejection

He said the ANC rejected the argument that the mergers were calculated to ensure that the ANC wins the upcoming local government elections.

"Local government in SA is 15 years young, a system that is still evolving. The ANC has been at the receiving end of re-demarcation. We have accepted the logic and purpose of the board having noted that the rationale will benefit the country and our governance system rather than advancing a narrow and partisan view."

He said the application to the MDB was made legally in terms of the Municipal Demarcation Act with a view to decreasing the number of non-viable municipalities.

"We believe the board has independently applied its mind to the application, agreeing to some proposals and rejecting others."

North West Community Safety MEC  Gaoage Molapisi  condemned violent protests in Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp, saying the destruction of public and private property was a crime and those found responsible for this would be put behind bars.

"South Africa is a democratic country where people have rights, and these rights are enshrined in the Constitution. People have the right to gather and march but their rights are not above any other rights," he said.

"There is no right in the Constitution that grants anyone a permission to burn and destroy essential amenities like schools, libraries, police stations, or government buildings. They cannot pick and chose which rights suit them. If you transgress the Constitution you must face the full might of the law."

He said when the protesters applied for the march, they said it was going to be a peaceful march and the leaders would control the march assisted by the marshals and more often than not, this was not the case.

"What happened in Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp is a case in point.  As government we are not going to fold our arms and say it is happening. We are going to apply the law and police must do their work without exceptions and those responsible must be arrested and prosecuted."

Molapisi said those who had set the municipal building alight in Ventersdorp should be charged with arson.

Read more on:    mahikeng  |  service delivery protests

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