There was jubilation in Polokwane, Limpopo, yesterday where an agreement was signed to end the protracted rift that had seen more than 25 schools set on fire in Vuwani, outside Thohoyandou, during recent protests.
This will pave the way for the Independent Electoral Commission to run a violence-free local government election there next week. The agreement was signed by an interministerial committee and stakeholders of different committees, including traditional leaders and teachers in the volatile area.
It is also intended to alleviate the escalating wrangles in the area and ensure that the more than 40 000 school children who have not attended school since May resume classes the day after the election.
The agreement was signed by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen, Limpopo MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs Makoma Makhurupeptje, education intellectuals and prominent traditional leaders from around Vuwani.
“We are delighted that we have reached an amicable agreement,” Van Rooyen said. “We have agreed to work hand in glove in an effort to bring peace and stability to Vuwani and the country in general during these elections and beyond.
“A community where youths are not educated is a lost community. We therefore urge everyone to be committed to this gesture that seeks to see the culture of learning and teaching back on the agenda.”
Regarding the local government elections, Van Rooyen said: “With only six days left to the polls, I would like to urge the community of Vuwani and the entire country not to disenfranchise themselves.
“The right to vote is indeed a precious right as the victory over apartheid and achieving ‘one man one vote’ was not easy,” he said.
He cautioned residents of Vuwani and others elsewhere in the country that “no-go areas” did not exist in the democratic SA.
“Voting will happen everywhere at any given time without fear or intimidation.”
He added that any destruction or vandalism of property before, during or after the elections would come back to haunt the perpetrators.