Vuwani vows to continue shutdown until deal put on paper

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Vuwani community leaders have vowed not to back down with the shutdown that has almost paralysed the area amid continuous municipal re-demarcation protests which left more than 20 schools torched. 

City Press reported on Sunday that the state was preparing to backtrack on the decision to move communities in Vuwani from Makhado into a new municipality that would incorporate Malamulele. City Press has learnt that discussions about an out of court settlement were advanced. 

READ: State's U-turn on Vuwani

Senior officials in the Limpopo provincial government, the ANC and traditional leadership in the area told City Press that “the deal that is on the table is that people who do not want to be a part of the merger are not going to be forced”. 

Community leaders seemed to appreciate the government’s intention to consider their demand for areas clustered under Vuwani to remain part of the Makhado municipality and not to be incorporated into a new municipal entity with Malamulele. But the leaders refused to call off their protest until their demands are fully met.

The recent engagements by government with traditional leaders – who have taken the matter to the Constitutional Court – has widely been interpreted as a desperate attempt to appease the protesting communities of Vuwani as the local government election looms. 

The communities have, however, vowed to continue their protest until the decision to reverse municipal border redraft has been put to paper. 

Community leader Nsovo Sambo, who was charged for inciting violence and released on a warning, said after a meeting with traditional leaders where they were briefed on new developments on Saturday that they were not about to back down. 

“We have trust issues here in that we have agreed in May in a community meeting that we won’t suspend our lockdown until our demands are met and we’ll push this until August 3. We can’t now just suddenly change tune because we’re told verbally that we’ll remain in Makhado; we need a court order or a gazetted decision for us to stop our protest action,” Sambo said. 

“We will be meeting communities who have vowed not to vote until the demarcation decision is reversed but the general feeling is that they can’t vote until a new decision is on paper. We appreciate all the effort and engagements but we can trust it (only) when signed and sealed on paper.” 

Meanwhile, one of the local traditional leaders Livhuwani Matsila said the “broader community was tired of the shutdown which has kept learners away from school for two months”. 

“They want the shutdown to end but as much as they are supporting the cause against the move into the new municipality they’re too afraid to come out and say they want their children back in school and their shops open. This issue could be resolved but the impact of the lockdown especially on education is irreversible, hence most of us believe we should allow socio-economic activities to continue while relevant stakeholder engage on the side,” he said.

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