King gives Vuwani protests his blessing

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King of the Vhavenda, Khosikhulu Toni Mphephu Ramabulana and President Jacob Zuma. Picture: File
King of the Vhavenda, Khosikhulu Toni Mphephu Ramabulana and President Jacob Zuma. Picture: File

King of the Vhavenda, Khosikhulu Toni Mphephu Ramabulana, is planning to ask President Jacob Zuma to reverse the demarcation decision that has seen chaos erupt in areas around Vuwani. 

Vuwani residents lost a high court bid last Friday to have their area reinstated under the Makhado Municipality. 

Instead of appealing the court decision that would see a cluster of villages around Vuwani being moved to a new municipality that will incorporate Malamulele, the king said he would ask Zuma to reverse it. 

“We’re not intending to go to the Supreme Court of Appeal. We’ve resolved that this is a political problem and it needs a political solution, hence we’re trying to get the attention of the president,” he said. 

Cooperative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen yesterday discouraged protesting communities from violent acts, which have left 24 schools damaged by fire, and urged them to take the legal route. 

Ramabulana seemed not to agree with this, saying his people should not be in protests against municipality borders in the first place. 

“People from Vuwani did not call for a new municipality ... people from Malamulele did.” 

He said that the communities’ protest was “genuine”. 

“I support my people in opposition to [their areas being part of] the new municipality. I will engage the office of President Jacob Zuma to look into a solution as soon as possible,” he said. 

Ramabula has condemned the violence and torching of schools and said it was robbing the children of their future. 

About 50 villages around Vuwani that previously fell under Makhado were incorporated into the new municipality, which would have its seat in Malamulele. 

Communities of Malamulele recently won their own battle after several years of fighting for their areas to be disintegrated from the Thohoyandou-based Thulamela municipality. Their wish was granted last year after violent protests. 

Meanwhile, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga visited Vuwani today where she expressed her devastation at the damage of schools’ infrastructures. 

She said without any computerised back-up system, schools had not only lost buildings but important records from many years back. 

Motshekga said her department was yet to quantify the damage left after schools in the area were torched. 

She said she was not sure when school would resume in the area. 

“We don’t know when things are going to settle down or what’s going to happen tomorrow. Our response to this situation will only be informed by stability,” Motshekga said. 

Her spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga, however, estimated that the damage was about R500 000.

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