National 2.8.2016 07:03 pm

Vuwani will be playing soccer, not voting

A young man from Tshivhulana village bikes pass an IEC official locked out of the Tshivhulana Primary School. Pictures: Chester Makana/ANA

A young man from Tshivhulana village bikes pass an IEC official locked out of the Tshivhulana Primary School. Pictures: Chester Makana/ANA

Community members are set to continue their protest against their re-demarcation into a bigger municipality by not voting on Wednesday.

Along the dusty streets of Vuwani’s township Vyeboom there are no election posters of parties or independent candidates who are fighting for the soul of the new Limpopo municipality.

Unlike other areas, the violence-torn area political parties did not have chance to charm or promise potential voters.

Last week the government and senior traditional leaders signed a peace deal with hopes of ending violence in the area and to persuade residence to vote. But on Tuesday, the eve of elections, the deal had all but collapsed.

Residents have resolved to play soccer and other games rather than join millions of people who are set to vote in the local government elections tomorrow. About 26 million South Africans are registered to vote.

Some residents canvassed for comment said participating in the election would be “endorsing and accepting that they want to be part of a new municipality”. And that is the last thing many of them appear to want.

In May, residents of Vuwani went to the high court in a bid to have the Municipal Demarcation Board decision to create a new municipality that would include their area reversed. However, their bid failed and protests erupted.

As many as 20 schools were torched in the protests and cars and other property were damaged.

On Tuesday, residents sarcastically pointed to posters placed along the street that had nothing to do with the elections.

“There is a poster there,” said a community member Steven Matamela pointing to an A4-sized poster on a wall.

“We are going to play in a tournament; we are going to play soccer; we had planned this – it’s unfortunate that our loyalty will be on the soccer field.”

He said other games would also be played in the area to take advantage of the public holiday.

“There will be no voting; if we vote we will be accepting this new municipality – that is the problem.”

Matamela and his fellow residents seemed more interested in the planned soccer tournament than the vote.

Vuwani and some areas were incorporated with the Malamulele area on the shoulder of Kruger National Park.

On Monday, acting police commissioner Lieutenant General Kgomotso Phahlane warned against intimidation. He said police would be on hand to ensure that those who wanted to vote could do so without hindrance.

Special voting did not take place on Monday. On Tuesday, the last day of special voting, there was no sign, however, of anyone voting in the area.

At Tshivhualana Primary School, IEC officials sat on top of a table outside the school, which was locked.

Guarded by four armed police officers, the IEC officials waited for hours for voters.

In a related development, three arrested community leaders are due to appear in court for violating the Electoral Act.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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