National 25.7.2016 05:00 am

Midvaal protests are ‘sign of ANC desperation’

Police monitor the situation during the Sicelo informal settlement service delivery protests on July 21, 2016 in Meyerton, South Africa. Residents in the Midvaal municipality embarked on a service delivery protest, burning tires and barricading the road. Picture: Gallo Images

Police monitor the situation during the Sicelo informal settlement service delivery protests on July 21, 2016 in Meyerton, South Africa. Residents in the Midvaal municipality embarked on a service delivery protest, burning tires and barricading the road. Picture: Gallo Images

The DA-run municipality’s mayor claims his life was threatened in what he describes as ‘a few people holding the council to ransom’.

The ongoing violent protests that have gripped Midvaal are a clear indication of a political battle for control of the local municipality, according to a political analyst.

Professor Andre Duvenhage said that what started off as a labour dispute between the municipality and the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) recently has now seen Sicelo informal settlement residents protesting violently about service delivery.

It would be wrong to think the violent protests were sparked only by lack of service delivery and labour issues, as there was more at stake ahead of the local government elections, Duvenhage said yesterday.

“Violence has become a bigger part of this year’s elections and it is clear the DA is in a much stronger position, something that has got the ANC very concerned.

“It also seems as if some people are now resorting to violence because they feel there might be a possibility of them losing their positions. This is very worrying,” Duvenhage said.

He said the ANC was in a very difficult position ahead of the elections and would do whatever it took to ensure it did not lose at the polls.

“The violence we are seeing is likely to pick up even after election day, particularly if the ANC loses some of the big municipalities,” Duvenhage said.

The Midvaal area remained tense at the weekend, following a week of violent protests. On Friday last week, a police Nyala, ferrying Gauteng MEC for community safety Sizakele Malobane-Nkosi and other officials, was petrol-bombed. A journalist was also injured and her camera damaged by protesters.

Incumbent Midvaal mayor Bongani Baloyi’s life was allegedly threatened. Baloyi, who was expected to address the protesters on Saturday, did not want to divulge any further details.

“I have taken all the necessary steps to ensure my safety and that of my family, but I cannot reveal anything at this stage,” Baloyi said, asked when he planned to address residents.

Residents of Sicelo informal settlement barricade the R59 highway during service delivery protests on July 21, 2016 in Meyerton, South Africa. Sicelo informal settlements residents in the Midvaal municipality embarked on a service delivery protest, burning tires and barricading the road. Picture: Gallo Images

Residents of Sicelo informal settlement barricade the R59 highway during service delivery protests on July 21, 2016 in Meyerton, South Africa. Sicelo informal settlements residents in the Midvaal municipality embarked on a service delivery protest, burning tires and barricading the road. Picture: Gallo Images

He said a situation had been created to indicate the community wanted him to address them – and then a stray bullet would fly in his direction at the meeting.

DA Gauteng provincial leader John Moodey said that as long as the situation remained volatile, Baloyi would not go and address the residents.

“The mayor really wanted to go on Saturday, but on assessing the situation, he decided otherwise.

“It is not everyone who is involved in this violence. It’s only a few people who want to hold the council and the Midvaal communities to ransom,” Moodey said.

The SA Local Government Association was to convene a meeting with Samwu and the Midvaal leadership today.

– stevent@citizen.co.za

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