PRETORIA, January 26 – Traffic was heavily congested in the Pretoria CBD on Friday afternoon as members of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) led more than a thousand protesters to the offices of Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga, whom they accused of inefficiency.
Businesses in the city centre were closed and some frustrated motorists were hooting in anger as members of the Tshwane Metro Police diverted them to other routes, away from the protesters.
ANCYL Tshwane regional chairperson Lesego Makhubela told journalists at the protest the grievances against the Msimanga-led administration were many.
“We are representing thousands of security guards who have been fired. All of them must be reinstated. Essentially, what we are fighting is the reproduction of poverty and unemployment in the city. We are also fighting the harassment of informal traders in town. These are people who the metro police have been instructed to take their stock from, their tools of trade,” said Makhubela.
“Generally we are fighting the purge of black professionals in the City of Tshwane.”
Asked if the new Democratic Alliance (DA) can be blamed for the problems bedevilling the capital city, which it won from the mother body of the ANCYL, the African National Congress in the August 2016 hotly contested municipal polls, Makhubela said the current administration running South Africa’s capital must shoulder the blame.
“The creation of what we are demanding now is thousands of workers that had been employed through the ANC-led government. The critics and the naysayers of this programme actually take the very same programme, they removed all these people, and they want to replace them with their puppets, stooges volunteers of the DA,” said Makhubela.
“We have been keeping these people in employment for the past seven years. Security guards were working for Tshwane through contacts of companies, by doing that we were empowering companies so that they can be able to strengthen themselves and we were trying to transform the economy in Tshwane.”
A flyer doing the rounds on social media was warning businesses and schools to close down on Friday.
“Please, all shops and schools around must be closed due to EPWP [Extended Public Works Programme] Vat Alles strike. Whoever opens will be on his/her own risk,” said the warning.
In response to that message, Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for community safety Derrick Kissoonduth issued a statement, saying Tshwane would be requesting support from Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to stabilise the situation during the protest.
“Every person has the right to peacefully assemble and demonstrate, but this does not extend to the right to threaten, intimidate or assault other persons,” said Kissoonduth.
“National law enforcement agencies are duty-bound by the Constitution and the principles of co-operative government that it outlines to act in order to preserve the peace and secure the well-being of the people of the Tshwane. We trust that they will fulfil this duty diligently to ensure that the interest of the people of Tshwane are protected.”
Numerous members of the South African Police Service and the Tshwane Metro Police were closely monitoring the protesters.
– African News Agency (ANA)