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The following speech was delivered by Kevin Mileham MP, DA Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs during the, Vuwani Debate of Urgent Public Importance called for by the DA.
The Democratic Alliance condemns the violence and destruction of property that has occurred in these protests. We do, however, recognise the right of every South African to legitimately protest is enshrined in our Constitution but encourage all South Africans do so in manner that is peaceful and dies not destroy property.
Inherent in the right to protest is respect for the rights of other individuals. Children have rights to education conferred to them by the same Constitution that confers the right to protest to every individual. No right is superior to other rights and no individual therefore can claim to be exercising a right where such an action violates the rights of others. The prevention of children from attending school is a violation of a right and an offence punishable by law.
Over the weekend, it was reported that an ANC ward councillor had been arrested for his role in the arson in which more than 24 schools were burnt to the ground at a cost of more than R750 million. This again demonstrates how the ANC of today has changed. It is no longer the ANC of Nelson Mandela, an ANC that cared for the people and the education of our children. Instead of ending the violent protest, the ANC councillor added fuel to the fire. While we welcome the arrest of this ANC councillor and those implicated in this destruction of property, we call on the ANC to publicly condemn the actions of their councillor and take disciplinary steps against him in their appropriate structures and suspend him from attending any public gatherings for fear of further incitement.
A little more than a year ago, I visited the strife torn community of Malamulele. At the time I was appalled by what I found: police Caspirs and Nyalas on every corner, barbed wire barricades across the roads, armed patrols of policemen in full riot gear, and a complete breakdown of civil society. I felt as though I was in a war zone – every shop was closed, litter and rubble strewn across deserted streets and no sign of normal commerce, education or other activity taking place. I didn’t think things could get any worse.
Sadly, they did.
The story of Malamulele and Vuwani did not begin last month, or even last year. It is a simmering pot of tension that dates back decades, and has been exacerbated by lacklustre or non-existent service delivery, a web of corrupt, patronage networks, and a complete failure to consult with the affected communities. In fact, the earliest tensions are reported to have arisen in 1963, when an artificial border was drawn between the Venda and Tsitsonga on the Levubu River.
The Malamulele protests last year were because the community felt they were being excluded from receiving municipal services from the predominantly Venda Thulamela Municipality on the basis of their Tsitsonga ethnicity. A report by the Municipal Demarcation Board in 2014 indicated that a standalone Malamulele Municipality (at that time, excluding Vuwani), was not financially and operationally viable. But as is their wont, the ANC interfered, and President Jacob Zuma, in a desperate gamble to shore up votes, promised the people of Malamulele their own municipality. Former COGTA Minister Pravin Gordhan opened the door for the people of Malamulele when he proclaimed his s22 notices of amalgamation, and the MDB in a bizarre reversal, created a new municipality combining Malamulele from the former Thulamela Municipality and Vuwani from Makhado Municipality.
It is important to note that there has been NO impact assessment to determine the viability of the proposed new municipality. There has been NO public consultation with the residents of Vuwani on the matter. And now, the Venda speaking Vuwani community are the ones who feel that they are being excluded from the process and will be prejudiced by the amalgamation with the predominantly Tsitsonga Malamulele community.
And this is where it becomes ridiculous: To date there has not been one portfolio committee in the Limpopo Legislature where the new municipality has been discussed. There is no budget allocation by National or Provincial Treasury towards the new municipality and absolutely no indication that the Limpopo government will be able to implement the demarcation resolutions in time for the Local Government Elections. They have given no indication of how they will complete the dissolution and construction of the municipalities.
The MEC for COGHSTA, MEC Makhurupetje was absent without an apology in the Provincial Legislature for a debate on the Vuwani crisis. But the ANC, ever in denial, stated through head of government business, MEC Jerry Ndou, on 10 May 2016 in the Legislature, in response to a member statement by the DA highlighting the lack of preparedness of COGHSTA, that they will be ready to proceed as a new municipality immediately after the Local Government Elections.
Chairperson, Vuwani and Malamulele are a bonfire that is poised to erupt.
We therefore call on the relevant Ministers to give clarity on the disputed municipal demarcations process, the continued dishonesty with the local community, the failure of service delivery in these municipalities, the plan to help rebuild schools and the condemnable failure by the SAPS and Crime Intelligence to respond swiftly to protect important infrastructure in the town.
South Africans want an honest government and that doesn’t lie to them. A government that listens and they can get this government by voting for the DA at the Local Government Elections.