“The vandalism and arson of the Venterdorp local municipal buildings last night [Friday] is a horrible result of the ANC government’s neglect and contempt for residents’ views, which are opposed to the merger of Tlokwe municipality and Ventersdorp municipality,” DA spokeswoman Juanita Terblanche said in a statement.
This follows the burning of a municipal building in Ventersdorp and the blocking of roads with burning tyres and other objects by protesters opposing the merger.
Terblanche said the government and the Demarcation Board had long given up listening to Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp residents, who clearly feared the amalgamation, but had no say in this critical decision.
Participatory democracy and the values of people-centred government had been destroyed by the ANC in the North West, she said.
“The DA is concerned that the Tlokwe municipality/Ventersdorp merger shows signs of mimicking the Khutsong and Matateile cross-border protests, where the government only really listened to grievances after resident had to turn violent to stop it. Today the ANC forces communities to turn violent before government listens.
“The ANC cannot shift the blame for the Ventersdorp violence to anyone but themselves. The DA is opposing this merger in the High Court, but never through violence on the streets,” Terblanche said.
The ANC’s disregard for community voices and reckless comments by ANC officials had sparked the turmoil.
The violence started after comments by ANC provincial secretary Dakota Legoete, who during a radio debate with the DA on Thursday evening about the amalgamation, said “people can march, do whatever they want to; it will not bring them anything, it will not change the ANC’s viewpoint”.
“These words were the last straw for an ignored community and they sparked protests and disruptions currently ongoing in Ikageng, Potchefstroom, and Ventersdorp,” she said.
In a “fair society” the DA government would have taken the community views as paramount and would have given a fair hearing to the community most affected.
“We sympathise with residents who are ignored by the ANC who wants to push the merger through before the 2016 elections. They know their days as the governing party in the Tlokwe municipality are numbered.”
It is not in the nature of the DA to participate in destructive protests and the party would continue to fight the amalgamation in court.
The DA would bring this case before the High Court in Pretoria on September 29, Terblanche said.