||Regional ANC leadership and supporters, bussed in from neighbouring townships, were met with a hostile reception at the Kennedy Road Informal Settlement yesterday as residents refused them entry to the community hall.
The foiled rally was supposed to be addressed by ANC provincial leader and KwaZulu-Natal Premier S'bu Ndebele, but he ended up not arriving at the venue, where chanting, angry residents accused the ANC of using them as "election tools".
The ANC had planned a campaign rally to introduce their local government manifesto at the Kennedy Road community hall but ended up being locked out of the hall by the residents.
The residents under the banner of the Abahlali BaseMjondolo, the shack dwellers' movement of Durban, have been part of countrywide protests by disgruntled communities over lack of service delivery by local government.
A march by Abahlali BaseMjondolo on November 14 last year turned violent when protesters clashed with the police after the eThekwini council "prohibited" the march which was aimed at raising the residents' grievances - the lack of proper housing and toilets. Some members of the community were arrested and rubber bullets were fired at the marchers.
Abahlali BaseMjondolo chairperson S'bu Zikode said they felt "insulted" by the ANC. "This came as a shock to us that the premier was supposed to be here. We were only told about this rally on Friday night.
"We are not allowing anybody into the hall. They are using us as a campaign tool, we are saying they should go to other halls," he said.
Zikode called the rally "a dirty trick" attempt to use informal settlements as election-time window dressing.
Busloads of ANC supporters from townships like Chesterville and Cato Crest, donned in party t-shirts, including eThekwini head of the Housing Portfolio Committee Nigel Gumede and provincial MP Sam Mthethwa, were met with resistance from the residents.
The residents in their trademark red T-shirts with the inscription, "No land, No housing, No vote," told the ANC leadership and supporters to go "address us in the stinking shacks" that they lived in.
Local party leaders were at pains, trying to convince the stubborn community to open the hall and raise their grievances when Ndebele arrived but the residents would have none of it.
One visibly irate resident accused the ANC of not caring for its supporters by imposing local councillor Yakoob Baig on them despite the community having made it clear that they did not want him. Baig is the ANC's candidate for Ward 25 which includes Sydenham, Sherwood, Asherville, Clare Estate and Springfield.
"I don't know what Baig is doing here because we buried him three times last year. How did he come back?" she said in reference to the mock funerals that they had held in protest against Baig's "non-delivery".
Another woman told the local leaders, "You people cannot tell us anything because you live in nice houses and flats while we live in shit."
The residents, however, made it clear that they were still ANC supporters but they were against the "imposing" of Baig on them.
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