||65 arrested following NWest protest
The Citizen 17 August 2009
JOHANNESBURG - Sixty-five people were arrested for public violence
following service delivery protests near Leeudoringstad on Monday, North
West police said.
About 500 people began burning tyres in the middle of the road in
Kgakala township early on Monday morning, Captain Aafje Botma said.
“We had to use rubber bullets to disperse the people as they were being
violent and started throwing stones.”
No one was injured during the protests, and the situation was under control.
Those arrested would face charges of public violence and intimidation.
Angry residents attack off-duty cop ‘We’d rather die than live here
Kowthar Solomons & Francis Hweshe Cape Argus 17 August 2009
AN OFF-duty policeman who was attacked and beaten over the head with a
large rock by protesting Khayelitsha residents is in a serious but
stable condition in hospital, police said this morning.
The officer, whose name police have declined to release, was attacked
when he tried to drive through a barricade erected by residents of BT
Section, Site C, Khayelitsha yesterday.
He is stationed in Stellenbosch, and was off-duty and not in uniform at
Police used rubber bullets to disperse protesters late last week, but
angry residents took to the streets again at the weekend.
Residents in BT Section started protesting on Thursday night.
Street committee spokeswoman Nosisa Mgoduka said the residents were
angry with mayor Dan Plato.
She said Plato had promised to move the community to a piece of land
where there were services.
“On (last) Monday he said there was no place for us.
“He said that he would look for a place for us in the next six months.
“That is what angered people. Police have also said that they are going
to kill us if we keep protesting.
“We would rather be killed by police while protesting than live in this
place. It’s not safe here. We want a better place,” said Mgoduka.
Yesterday the section of busy Lansdowne Road that runs through the area
was barricaded with an empty shipping container and strewn with litter.
Protesters stoned passing cars and dug trenches in the road. Rocks and
cardboard were used to make barricades.
Tempers flared when the off-duty officer, driving a Fiat Cento, tried to
drive through part of the barricade. He lost control of the car and
crashed into the pavement.
Residents surrounded the car while the policeman and his passenger, who
has not been identified, tried to start it.
Angry words were exchanged, and the policeman pulled out a gun.
This made the residents back off at first, but then they raced back to
confront him again.
A struggle ensued, and the police officer was knocked unconscious.
Residents started assaulting the man and his gun was taken away.
As he regained consciousness and tried to get up off the ground, one
resident picked up a rock and slammed it into the policeman’s head and
He collapsed again. His companion, bleeding from the forehead after also
being attacked by protesters, fled into an alleyway between nearby houses.
Police who were stationed nearby managed to get to the unconscious
officer, who was taken away from the area in an ambulance.
Plato said this morning that “violence and other forms of intimidation”
would not be tolerated.
He said residents of BT Section should use the city council’s “existing
political structures” – such as ward councillors and ward forums – to
air their concerns.
The area was quiet this morning.
Additional reporting by Murray Williams
Protesters beat officer
Michelle Jones 17 August 2009
After crashing his car in the midst of a service delivery protest, an
off-duty police officer was assaulted by angry community members in
The 35-year-old officer remains in a serious condition in hospital after
he was repeatedly kicked by community members angry that he had driven
down Lansdowne Road.
Khayelitsha police spokesperson Anneke van der Vyver last night said it
was not yet clear why the Stellenbosch police officer drove through the
The protest started at about 3pm yesterday when angry community members
dragged a shipping container to the middle of Lansdowne Road in Site C
to block traffic. Large stones and rocks also blocked the road.
They then set a number of tyres and rubbish piles alight in different
spots along the road, police spokesman November Filander said.
A turquoise Fiat Uno, driven by the constable, "drove recklessly" down
the road and was suddenly stopped by a stone in the road.
The car skidded for some time and then crashed into the pavement, Cape
Times photographer Jeffrey Abrahams said.
The constable and his friend had got out of the car to check the damage
when they were approached by the community members, allegedly angry that
the pair had driven recklessly down the road.
After arguing for some time, the constable pulled out his service
pistol, Abrahams said.
Community members began beating and kicking him, until he lay face down
on the road with a rock thrown on to his back.
Said Van Der Vyver: "They assaulted him quite badly and took his firearm."
No arrests had been made last night.
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Times on
August 17, 2009
Marching, not talking
Nalini Naidoo (The Witness) 17 August 2009
A DRAWBACK of living in a capital city that is the seat of the
provincial legislature is that every so often you have to run the
gauntlet of protesting marchers. It can mean having to sit stewing in a
traffic gridlock because the roads are blocked. Last week was a case in
point when members of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union
(Sadtu) took to the streets demanding the resignation of Education
Department head Cassius Lubisi, and four of his senior officials.
Don’t expect it to get any better this week because the union has
promised further rolling mass action. There’s to be more protests
culminating in a night vigil followed by a march by thousands of union
members. All of this to get five people to resign. Coincidentally, all
of this is also happening in the week that marks President Jacob Zuma’s
100 days in office. In his State of the Nation address at the start of
his tenure, the president said: “We reiterate our non-negotiables.
Teachers should be in school, in class, on time, teaching, with no
neglect of duty and no abuse of pupils.”
Sadtu blames Lubisi and his four officials for the downfall of education
in the province. The union could have told Zuma this and saved
government the expense of including KZN school principals in his meeting
with headmasters at the Durban International Convention Centre just the
In a memorandum giving reasons for its rolling mass action, Sadtu
mentions falling matric passes, KZN’s massive maths failure and
corruption within the department. These are serious accusations and one
would have expected the union to ask for these officials to be fired
rather than calling for their resignation. Why aren’t they doing this?
Another question to raise is why the protest action now, so close to the
end of year exams, when the drop in the pass rate and the poor maths
performance has been known since the beginning of the year?
Interestingly, high matric pass rates were recorded when the IFP ran the
department. A subliminal message that can be read from all this action
is that education was better off under the IFP. We know this can’t be
the case, after all, Sadtu is part of Cosatu, which is an alliance
partner with the ANC.
So here lies the rub. As a member of the alliance, one would have
expected that Sadtu would have raised its concerns about Lubisi and his
cohorts in the many forums available to them. It also has the
responsibility of not just alluding to corruption, but doing something
about it; like laying charges with the police and making the officials
accountable for their alleged actions. The union has made two
allegations of corruption so far. The one is the more than R200 million
paid to stationery supplier Indiza Motswedi. This matter is currently
before the courts so the department has acted.
The other allegation is that R1,5 million was injected monthly into the
now defunct Remant Alton bus company. Under Lubisi, the Education
Department for the first time received a clean report from the
auditor-general (A-G). If there have been hidden payments made, this
information must be made available to the A-G.
There have been suggestions that the massive protest action does not
have the support of all union members. According to media reports, a
document was purportedly circulated by disgruntled Sadtu members
accusing union leader Mbuyiseni Mathonsi and his followers of leading a
smear campaign because his faction want senior posts in the department.
The document has been dismissed by Sadtu chairman Chris Ndlela as the
work of Lubisi sympathisers.
Whatever Lubisi’s strengths and failings, remarkably little has been
said by his political bosses. From reports, we know that he has the
support of other teacher unions and is respected in education circles.
We also know there is no love lost between him and Sadtu. The chilling
of relations started in 2006 after the national public service strike
when former Education MEC Ina Cronjé and Lubisi stuck to their guns on
the no work no pay issue.
Rolling mass action was a weapon used by the disenfranchised during the
apartheid era when there was no access to the organs of the state. This
was seen as a way of getting one’s voice heard. We now have a legitimate
government and a president with a listening ear. Sadtu’s actions place
Zuma’s government in a difficult predicament. If its massive protest
this week results in the provincial government caving in and getting rid
of these officials it will mean that all you have to do is shout the
loudest and cause the most disruption and government will give in to
your demands. This is hardly a message that Zuma will want to send out
after just 100 days in office.
Police swoop on Pagad
The Cape Times 17 August 2009
Fifty-eight people, including Pagad (People Against Drugs and
Gangsterism) executives Abeda Roberts and Osman Sahib have been arrested
after attempting to march on a Lentegeur drug dealer in Mitchells Plain
and are to appear in court on Monday morning.
Following a visit to the Mitchells Plain police station by Premier Helen
Zille and negotiations between police and Pagad lawyers, five juveniles
arrested were released into their parents' care and 49 of the group were
granted police bail of R300.
Late last night Roberts, Sahib and two others remained in custody.
On Saturday night, about 100 people gathered on a field in Lentegeur
after a meeting in a hall next to the local mosque and planned a march,
Rubber bullets had been fired and a stun grenade thrown when the group
failed to disperse after they were warned, police spokesman November
He said 36 men and 22 women were arrested and there were unconfirmed
reports that several people had been injured by the rubber bullets.
"Two of the arrested men had licensed firearms in their possession," he
"The firearms were seized for investigative reasons. All the arrested
persons will be charged for intimidation of police members and under the
Illegal Gatherings Act, and are scheduled to appear in the Mitchells
Plain Magistrate's Court (today)."
Police claimed most of the people arrested were not from Mitchells
Plain. A list produced by Pagad executive member Cassiem Parker
yesterday showed, however, that most of those arrested had Mitchells
Plain addresses and phone numbers.
Yesterday, families of the group gathered outside the police station,
where Parker had several briefings updating them on progress made in
negotiations for the groups to be released on bail.
Zille, who emerged from the police station after talks with Mitchells
Plain police director Jeremy Veary, told the families that bail would be
posted, and while they had every right to protest, it should be done
legally. She urged people not to take the law into their own hands.
In 2007 Zille was arrested in Mitchells Plain after she participated in
an anti-drug march.
Shouts of "Allah hu Akbar (God is great)" rang out as the five
juveniles, their faces covered, and their parents emerged from the
Parker said earlier that police had used unnecessary force on Saturday's
march and opened fire before the time given to disperse had elapsed.
"Pagad has for a long time had programmes to oppose gangs and druglords
and (Saturday night) was just one of them," Parker said.
"We exercised our constitutional right to protest, and that gathering
was not illegal. It became illegal only when a police officer said: 'You
have five minutes to disperse.'
"They try to say people outside Mitchells Plain are (coming here to
"If this were so, it would be noble for people outside the area to come
and help the Mitchells Plain community fight druglords."
Mitchells Plain Community Policing Forum chairman Michael Jacobs said
Pagad had tried to re-establish itself in Mitchells Plain over the past
three months and had held several community gatherings.
He said Pagad had been invited to work with the Community Policing Forum
but, he claimed, the forum's strategy of street committees had failed to
curb druglords and gangs.
"We gave them facts. In March 2008 we had 259 illegal shebeens. By 12
August this year there were only 95. There were about 40 known drug
outlets," Jacobs said.
"From April to August, we've closed down 15. We are intensifying our
campaign and although it takes time, we are getting there. Pagad is
trying to get a foothold. On Thursday night, a group went to a shebeen
in the same area."
Parker said proof of Pagad's effectiveness was that whenever it was
active, drug dealing decreased.
* This article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Times on
August 17, 2009
Poor can’t be silenced
Sunday World 16 August 2009
UNDER THE GUN: Protests have exposed repressive state machinery
Whether or not service delivery protests have been more frequent in
President Jacob Zuma’s era is subject to inquiry as it is arguable that
the conditions underpinning protests have been ever present in the
The flipside of this ideological onslaught is that much as the admission
is made that “times are tough” for the working class, it must
nonetheless “hold its tongue until the winds of discomfort have whirled
Linked to this is the assertion that the working class is weakening the
Zuma administration through its actions. Firstly, the argument about
weakening the Zuma government is feeble in the sense that it is the
working-class vote that guaranteed the decisive victory of the ANC.
Secondly, working-class organisations such as Cosatu followed by the YCL
came forth and argued for a second term for a Zuma presidency, even
though there are those who say that it is too early for succession to be
raised because of fear of division.
As long as they are healthy, I don’t find any problem for a battle of
ideas because they are revolutionary in terms of building one another.
On the contrary, the government can deliver in these tough times only if
buttressed by the might of an organised and militant working class.
It would be disastrous for the underclass to hold its tongue and limit
its demands while the capitalist class is trying to tilt the current
economic environment to restore profitability.
The government must realise that transcending mass action demands that
the needs of the people not business must dictate who gets what, when
and how. The protests have also exposed the nature of the state’s
repressive machinery and how it is used to suppress the poor.
Matankana Mothapo, SACP Media Liaison Officer
Speech delivered at the Nelson Mandela Bay Crime Prevention Summit by the Deputy Minister: Police, Fikile Mbalula
13 August 2009
All protocol observed
Ladies and gentlemen
The Nelson Mandela Bay has a very strategic significance in the province
and South Africa at large, not because of their rich status in the
province, but, it is named after an iconic figure to ever grace the
world, Nelson Mandela. The city's positioning, has to be characterised
by love, peace and humility of uTata Madiba.
The people of this area must have an association with this gallant
leader of the people, thus being humble and eager to help others,
especially now that the world's eyes are glued in our direction as the
people of the South, hosting one of the major sporting events in the
world, the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The people of this area owe that to
uTata Madiba, South Africa and the world.
The iconic figure that walked and walks our streets is a symbol of
honesty, love and reconciliation. It does not necessarily mean this
iconic figure dwarfs us all but elevates us to greater heights of
recognition to the global world. We are the children of Nelson Mandela.
Today we are gathered here in this iconic Nelson Mandela Bay, and we
need to ask ourselves, why are we gathered here? What prompts us to
leave our lavish homes, offices and gather here?
The people of the Eastern Cape, especially within the Nelson Mandela
Metro, recently shocked the country with a number of highly publicised
violent crimes, including the murder of a young school boy in a park and
six children and a grandmother in Zwide. We are asking ourselves, kutheni?
What has our society done to deserve these inhumane actions that we see?
When I see a child, in my eyes I see my family, I see my daughter, I see
my son, I see a bright future for my country. Why then do I act like
this and take a life that is still pure, a life that is innocent?
Kutheni Nelson Mandela Bay?
When I see an old man or old woman, I see my grandmother or grandfather.
I see a pillar of knowledge for the younger generation? I see someone
who has gone this world and accumulated knowledge to share with the
younger generation. I see myself gaining wisdom and knowledge from this
defenseless community resource. So why do I kill a knowledge? Eastern
Our actions are not only shaming us the people watching what is
happening in the Nelson Mandela Bay on television, but, we are abusing
and destroying the iconic name of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. What is
happening and prompting us to be here is not like what Mandela thrived
for. Why are we shaming the old man? Why can't we just be human beings
and act humanly as in the principles that characterises uTata Madiba of
humbleness, humility, peaceful and reconciliation?
Ladies and gentlemen
The constitution of the South Africa protects all its inhabitants. All
of us have the right to live freely, that's what many of our leaders had
to lose their lives during apartheid so that we can see peace and live
Through the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa the roles and
responsibilities of the South African Police Services were laid down for
the sake of ensuring citizens are free wherever they want to be at home,
malls, streets, workplaces, community parks etc.
As the constitution dictates, SAPS amongst others, is supposed to create
a safe and secure environment for all the people of and in South Africa
and again prevent anything that may threaten the safety or security of
any community. As part of this, the South African Police Services need
to ensure that the community is brought upon in the fight against crime.
The establishment of the Community Safety Forums is but, part and parcel
of bringing all the stakeholders together to ensure that there is a
broader participation by the community to tackle crime.
Many instances, it has been reported that, many crimes are committed by
people who know the victims. That is why when the investigations take
place, the first people to be arrested are people who are related to the
victims. This is a societal problem we are faced with.
On Tuesday this week, south of Gauteng in a public place, Lenasia Mall,
guards were shot by armed robbers while delivering money to the ATMs. We
hear one of the guards died yesterday; May his soul Rest in Peace.
We must be explicit, loud and clear we are tired of these animals
masquerading themselves in human bodies killing our people like dogs. We
should be equally vigilant and commit ourselves to removing these
animals out of the society for good. It's time we say Washa, Wafa Tsotsi
and to hell with criminals. It is time we kill these bastards! Or they
will kill us. Now poor guards are in critical conditions and one is dead.
The experts, say, since South Africa has reached a recession, actions
like these Cash-in-Transit heists and armed robberies should be
expected. They continue by saying that the number of patients in the
Hospitals has increased due to stress-related illnesses caused by recession.
Recession is a global problem, and we need together as South Africans
join hands in the fight for positive economic growth for the better of
our lives, but, this does not mean if this economic condition continues
people should allow stress to determine and make a decision for them by
committing crime, be it robberies, homicide, suicide.
We hear recession makes the vulnerable to commit suicide or tend to
crime because, some amongst us, have lost their jobs and others are
going to lose their jobs. A person decides to take her/his life and the
lives of those around him. Other people when relationships go wrong they
turn to committing suicide or homicides.
This is a problem, the reason we want the Police to be rooted within our
communities it is precisely to avoid situations that could have been
avoided. In any case when the court says a person is on a suicide-guard
that should not only be the time when the SAPS works around that person.
That's not Community Policing.
Ladies and gentlemen
We need to encourage a safe and healthy environment within which we
live. We need to encourage the involvement of communities in the fight
against crime. We owe all these to the Constitution of the Republic of
We must also stress it loudly that local government plays a critical
role in the Local Crime Prevention, promoting crime prevention through
multi-agency partnerships. As part of our mandate to expand and
establish the Community Policing Forums, the Provincial Departments of
Police and Community Safety should be taking the lead as these
structures should be located within.
This does not mean that the Community Safety Forums will take over the
role of the SAPS at local level or creating another bureaucracy at local
level in the fight against crime, but it is about strengthening the
community involvement in the fight against crime.
This will empower the Community Police Fora and the Community Safety
Fora to play a meaningful part in the safety and security of our people.
As police and community, we need to develop and implement a structured
multi-agency approach to improve safety in our homes and the community.
We must reduce crime and criminality by addressing the causes of crime
through structured partnerships.
We should acknowledge that crime and fear of crime seriously affects the
way we live and the quality of life. As part of the National Policy
Framework for Community Safety: A multi-agency government-community
partnership approach, we should look at, amongst others, the reduction
of crime, social crime prevention, improving environmental design
principles on community safety, encourage and improve the citizen
participation in the community safety initiatives and reduce
re-offending and integrating ex-offender into the community. Those
should form a base for your discussions later; on how do we structure
our engagement as the community and the SAPS?
Ladies and gentlemen
Crime should not be out of control. We should not allow the criminals to
dictate to us on how to live our lives. We should be able to say to
criminals as Martin Luther once said "here I stand I cannot do
otherwise". We should refuse to be afraid to be free human-beings
because someone hates to see peace reigning in our communities and
We are talking of Amending Section 49, on the use of Deadly Force when
confronted with a life or death situation as the police officers.
Currently as we speak, the statistics tell us that there are 95 police
officers, who died this financial year. 44 died on-duty whereas 51 off-duty.
As the police, we are saying one death too many. We can't allow a
situation that say our police officers should every time when they wake
up in the morning say "I am still alive". Why should a life of a Police
Officer be like that?
Our focus as communities and as lawmakers should be to prioritise the
life of a police officer, in our thinking and engagement in the
Amendment call of Section 49. Some people say Section 49 was not
exclusively designed for the protection of police officers but for the
perpetrator as well. In this case the perpetrator is seen as a victim,
when in actual fact the victim is the Constitution-protecting Police
Others already argue that Section 49 is ambiguous, if it is ambiguous
let's correct it. It is our duty to defend the constitution and the
people protecting the principles enshrined in our Bill of Rights.
Ladies and gentlemen
Currently we are working on the process of in-take of Reservists into
the SAPS. We are hopeful that the experience they gained during their
tenure as the Reservists will bear fruits for the country in the fight
In this quest, we believe the new team of Officers will gain a lot in
the Training Curriculum that the SAPS offer, and that when their intake
has been finalised we would have a physically and mentally strong Police
Man and Woman, who'll have good stature in the community. A police
officer who understands the principles of Ubuntu, the police officer who
understands the oath she/he took.
You are now taking an oath to say washa, wafa tsotsi!
As you get down to the work ahead, it is advisable that whatever we do
we should do it with love for my community, both as Police Officer and
the community members. We are committed to have a functional Local
Police Stations with the intention of fighting crime with all our might.
We have said all Station Commissioners will be in their uniforms
combating the prevalence of crime. It is our commitment.
Whatever we design and comes out of this summit it should also commit
the leadership of the police to action. Together we can do more in the
fight against crime.
The recent public violence on Service Delivery should work as a lesson
to us all gathered here, that, if my community is in turmoil like this,
what is my responsibility?
We have just established recently that in actual fact, there is an
element of criminality perpetrated by aboTsotsi within our communities
who have other intentions not related to service delivery, but use
Service delivery protests as a tool to commit their intended crime.
These criminals use politics, and when our focus is on the genuine
issues raised by the community, they steal all the money from the poor
foreign nationals in these communities. These criminals have established
that our fellow poor nationals are not using Financial Services
Institutions like banks to save their cash; they know they bank their
hard earned-cash in their shops or homes.
We can't allow these criminals to dictate to us using service delivery
protests. When the poor communities genuinely protest, these thugs
target poor small business owners by looting their shops and take all
their hard-earned cash. As a word of encouragement to all the small
business owners, be it foreign nationals or South Africans, there are
other ways to protect your hard earned resources, services like Banks
can stop many of these senseless crimes we have seen taking place in our
We are not saying stop with your service delivery protests, but we say
do this within the confines of the law and genuinely. Don't allow people
with bad police profile to lead you. They might not mean what they
mobilised you for.
Do it responsibly with Police Officers there to protect you when you
march to present your memorandum.
I thank you.
Issued by: South African Police Service
13 August 2009
100 days, 100 issues
17 August 2009
In Zuma's first months in office, inclusivity, interaction and basically
wholesale change have been the order of the day, writes Pippa Green
On the day that Gill Marcus’s appointment as governor of the Reserve
Bank was announced, Gwede Mantashe received a text message on his
cellphone. It said: “Once again people of my colour are being overlooked.”
The secretary-general of the African National Congress replied tersely:
“Actually Gill is much more black than yourself.”
“Take her dresses, for instance,” he told a rapt audience at a Gordon
Institute of Business Science (GIBS) forum this week. Marcus, known
among other things for her uniform dress of flowing African kaftans, has
a political pedigree in the ANC that goes back nearly four decades.
“Gill spent all her life in the ANC, so if you begin to classify her
white for convenience, that would be disingenuous. She is the first
woman governor of the Reserve Bank and we haven’t even had that
discussion because we are not preoccupied by her complexion.”
The message about Marcus’s colour echoed rumblings by at least one
business columnist, and more explicitly by ANC Youth League leader
Julius Malema, that the “economic cluster”, ministries of finance, trade
and industry, public enterprises and economic development, had gone to
“minorities”. On a factual basis, said Mantashe, this was quite wrong.
“There’s something called mining, there’s something called energy,
there’s something called communications, transport, something called
agriculture. Land and rural development is an economic department.”
More crucially, he challenged the language. “In the ANC we don’t use the
term ‘minorities’, we use the term ‘blacks’, and specifically Africans.
This comes from our past. The ANC is not a Pan-Africanist organisation;
we are a non-racial movement.”
Only two whites – Barbara Hogan and Rob Davies – occupied economic
cluster ministries and to use such racially charged language “would be
to ignore their credentials in the struggle”.
It is telling that Mantashe dwelt on the language. If there is one
palpable change in the first 100 days of the Zuma presidency, it is in
It is a language that is more directly inclusive of the whole country
and more left wing. It is a language that harks back to the latter days
of the anti-apartheid struggle when the ANC and the internal Mass
Democratic Movement adopted an explicitly “non-racial” discourse.
This is in contradistinction to the language of a more conservative and
undiluted African nationalism.
But the inclusivity goes further than simply eschewing the notion that
South Africans of Indian and coloured origin are “minorities”, or that
whites who were part of the struggle can escape the burdens of their
“When Zuma said he wanted to appoint Pieter Mulder as deputy minister,
imagine the eyebrows that were raised in the ANC,” said Mantashe,
referring to the appointment of the Freedom Front politician, the son of
an apartheid cabinet minister nogal, to the post of deputy minister of
agriculture. “But we want to build an inclusive society.”
Has the discourse changed in other ways too? “Absolutely,” says Dr
Mamphela Ramphele, who chaired the Dinokeng Scenarios, a think-tank that
was fiercely critical of government failures.
“First of all, we have a president who is engaged, who goes to where the
people are. The most impressive symbolic representation of his engaged
presidency was his surprise visit to Balfour (in Mpumalanga, where there
have been violent protests).”
Mayors and councillors in many small towns “who believe they are a law
unto themselves” are suddenly on the hop.
Then there was Zuma’s meeting with school principals to discuss what
Ramphele calls the crisis in public education.
Certainly, there has to be a large question mark over a system that
spends the greatest part of its budget on education, yet ranks among the
lowest in the world in basic literacy and numeracy skills. “He
acknowledged the need for discipline and accountability (in schools),”
Success will be measured, though, not only by a willingness to engage
but by sufficient guts to take on key interest groups, specifically the
“I think there will be a willingness to take on certain stakeholders,”
says the government’s Themba Maseko, not least because MECs and
ministers will be held accountable for performance.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of teacher unionism in the
world, and the union has assiduously resisted performance management of
teachers. Thus the simple recipe for success repeated like a mantra over
the years, “In the classroom, on time, teaching”, will require the added
ingredient of a big stick.
Perhaps a sign of this, as one commentator pointed out, is that Thulas
Nxesi, the erstwhile general secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers’
Union, has been quietly tucked away in Parliament.
It may be too early to draw up a score-card – government is rather
dismissive of the “100-day” milestone, although it is indulging the
media – but there are three other significant pointers to change.
One is the new appointments, the second relates to responsiveness to the
citizenry by those in power, and the third to the enhanced role of the
ANC in governance.
“One of the things that was said was that Zuma was going to appoint his
associates and friends, and that has not happened,” Mantashe told the
This is partly true. Marcus may not have been “a friend”, although she
is certainly a long-standing comrade of Zuma’s, as is Pravin Gordhan,
the new minister of finance. And Bheki Cele, the new police
commissioner, has an even closer association through his home base.
Yet despite this, there is little doubt that the new incumbents are
energetic, smart and visionary. Cele may need to temper his mouth more
and there is also the question of whether he intervened in the fatal
accident involving the inebriated Sifiso Zulu’s luxury car.
The interim SABC board, tasked with salvaging the disaster that is now
the broadcaster, has so far been impressive in its robust common sense,
cutting expenses, stopping the luxuries and perks that were claimed as a
right by members of the two previous boards and executive management,
and instituting accountability.
The presidential nomination of Judge Sandile Ngcobo to head the
Constitutional Court also raised an eyebrow or two, not so much because
of Ngcobo’s credentials (they are solid) but because Deputy Chief
Justice Dikgang Moseneke was overlooked, presumably for his publicly
stated views on the importance of independence from the ruling party.
Yet Ngcobo has been a progressive judge – his latest judgment on the
unconstitutionality of the limited time frame to access information
under the Promotion of Access to Information Act serves the essence of a
democratic and transparent society and enhances media freedom.
Cabinet includes some notable talent and is, as Mantashe pointed out,
for the first time since 1994 representative of all the provinces.
New Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has begun to tackle the country’s
enormous health problems – exacerbated by his predecessor – with vigour.
And key ministers such as Trevor Manuel in the Presidency and Ebrahim
Patel in economic development have much in common beyond apparent
differences in ideology. They are both ethical and hard-working, share
an important past in the anti-apartheid struggle and a vision for a
country that works.
Then there is the question of the responsiveness of the new
administration. “I’ve been in government for four years and it’s never
happened before that commentators and analysts who have been very
critical (of Zuma) have been invited to engage with the president,” says
“Responsiveness must be a culture,” said Mantashe at the GIBS forum. “If
it’s not a culture it’s not going to happen.”
The problem, though, goes deeper than a “cultural shift”. David Lewis,
the erstwhile chair of the Competition Tribunal and an old union comrade
of Mantashe from the 1980s, asked at the GIBS forum whether the ANC may
reconsider its position on South Africa’s electoral system.
“Don’t you think people feel quite distant from their elected
leadership? We’ve often been in situations (in the union movement) where
we’ve seen significant anger at union leadership … but they’ve had a
direct means of channelling this anger into recalling those leaders.”
Ramphele frames the same concern differently: “The whole approach of the
post-apartheid government was to deliver free housing, free this, free
the other. This has created expectations on the part of citizens, a
passive expectation that government will solve problems.
“It has led to a ‘disengaged citizenry’ coupled with a style of
leadership in the previous administration that neither accommodated nor
welcomed criticism. Thus when people’s expectations are not met, they
revert to the anti-apartheid mode of protest which is destroy, don’t
pay, trash. We are yet to grasp the role of citizens as owners of
democracy,” she says.
For Mantashe the electoral system is not the problem – in fact, he
points out that a ward system accounts for two-thirds of councillors in
local government. The result is a shocking lack of experience in
municipalities – two thirds of councillors are first-timers.
Yet Lewis’s question remains. The Zuma administration may have shown
much attuned responsiveness in its first 100 days, yet there is little
to enforce it other than the goodwill and sense of people such as
Mantashe. Which brings us to this notable change in the first 100 days –
the enhanced role of the ANC in government.
“Who does run the country?” a young woman asked Mantashe at the forum.
“The Presidency, or the ANC? And how many times a day do you speak to Zuma?”
Mantashe was unequivocal in his reply: “Who runs the country is the ANC.
I talk to the president as regularly as I can. If I pick up a
controversial thing in the newspapers, I speak to him and say have you
seen this, go and find out. I talk to the staff in the office to bring
this to his attention.
“It’s called political oversight. That is the responsibility of the ANC.
I don’t want to be apologetic about it, we must do it more.”
Although this may raise questions about the separation of party and
state, it is a notable change from the previous administration, which
ignored the ANC, to its ultimate detriment.
The objective conditions today – severe revenue shortfall and economic
recession – are more challenging than any other since 1995, when the
country clawed its way back from the brink of bankruptcy. There can be
no doubt that delivery, particularly of jobs, will demand toughness and
Yet there seems reason for cautious optimism. “We have put together the
building blocks of government, put institutions in place, made the right
appointments,” says Maseko.
So it will be in the next 100 or even 1 000 days that the real gains of
the first 100 will be judged.
Workers' protest turns violent
Thandi Skade 14 August 2009
It was a scene reminiscent of the recent municipal strike - rubbish bins
tipped over and contents sprawled along the streets, and filth blocking
the entrance of the Krugersdorp Town Hall.
Rocks, bricks and concrete rubbish bins turned on the side blocked the
portion of Commissioner Street running in front of the Town Hall.
This time around, the only difference was the splattered bloodstains on
the ground telling the story of when pandemonium broke loose in the
usually docile town of Krugersdorp, west of Joburg.
Yesterday morning, around 30 SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) Mogale
City West Rand branch members were injured after police shot hundreds of
striking workers with rubber bullets - allegedly from as close as 10m.
Police allege the protesters were taking part in an illegal march that
had gone wild, and they were forced to open fire on the crowd after
members resisted arrest.
"At around 10am the protesters went on the rampage. They forced entry
into the Town Hall and proceeded to intimidate workers from other unions
not participating in the strike action," said Krugersdorp police
spokesperson Captain Jacob Raboroko.
He said that when police officers went inside the building, they found
that the burglar bars on some of the windows had been damaged.
When police went to arrest the protesters, they resisted, he added.
But Samwu chairperson Kolisile Moyikwa denied accusations that members
had vandalised municipal property and intimidated other workers.
Raboroko said 61 people had been arrested and charged with malicious
damage to municipal property and participating in an illegal march.
o This article was originally published on page 6 of The Star on August
Cop fires on Cape Argus team
Kowthar Solomons 14 August 2009
A policeman fired a rubber bullet at a Cape Argus news team during a
service delivery protest in Khayelitsha's Site C - despite the reporter
having identified himself as a journalist.
The reporter and photographer ran for cover when police opened fire at
about 9pm last night on a small group of protesters burning tyres,
clothing and furniture along Lansdowne Road.
'We want decent housing and electricity and all the other things he
Police had closed the road and started firing, allegedly without
warning. Everyone in the area, including the Cape Argus news team, ran
for cover, finding refuge in a near-by shack. There they and two
residents were approached by a policeman and asked to raise their hands.
The Cape Argus reporter complied, with his notebook still in one hand,
and identified himself as a media member.
Soon after the policeman lowered his gun, a colleague ran in. Ignoring
the first policeman's warnings that the group was media, the second
policeman fired a rubber bullet into the shack without warning.
Earlier the photographer had been shot in the leg by a rubber bullet
that had ricocheted off a nearby dustbin.
The team was on the scene to cover renewed service delivery protests in
the area, the first of which took place about three weeks ago, with
people demanding action from Cape Town mayor Dan Plato.
He met the residents at the time, promising them that he would address
their grievances in two weeks. The angry residents at the scene said
last night that they had waited long enough for the mayor.
Resident Xolani Ngcube said they were sick of empty promises.
"The mayor said he would deal with our problems in two weeks. That was
three weeks ago. We want decent housing and electricity and all the
other things he promised," he said.
Children were among the crowd of protesters when police opened fire with
rubber bullets, prompting residents to question their use of force.
Resident Thandi Mswai said she could no longer trust the police.
Police were still patrolling by late last night and the only signs of
the protest were the fires still burning on the roadside. The police
were unable to respond before the Cape Argus went to print today.
o This article was originally published on page 3 of Cape Argus on
August 14, 2009
Oudekraal fight not over
The fight to attain Oudekraal - the most contentious pocket of land in
Cape Town - goes to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein next
Tuesday, when owner Kassie Wiehahn will appeal to overturn a decision
that denied him the right to develop the land. Located adjacent to Camps
Bay, the property is considered one of the most sought after undeveloped
pieces of land in the world, given its immense historical, cultural and
religious significance. This legal action follows a successful
application brought forward by the City of Cape Town, the SA Heritage
Resources Agency (Sahra), the South African National Parks (Sanparks)
and other interest groups in 2007 to overturn the township development
rights on Portion 7 of Oudekraal.
According to one of these interest groups, the Cape Mazaar Society
(CMS), Wiehahn has strongly indicated his intention to appeal against
the decision. The attorney representing the City of Cape Town and
interest groups, Michael Edmonds, will be appealing to the judge to
uphold the high court judgment and make a final decision on the issue.
Role players have been in consultation with an environmental consulting
firm representing a developing company called Property and Promotions
Management, who have the option to purchase Portion 7 of the Oudekraal
land from Wiehahn. This developer recently carried out a fact-finding
mission has been carried out to establish the public's sentiment on the
land in question.
"Mr Wiehahn will continue to fight and will go all the way to the
Constitutional Court, if he is granted leave to appeal. Which ever way
the appeal goes...whether it is set aside or upheld...we are not very
much concerned as there is no concrete plan yet. Geologists,
archeologists and historians will first need to conduct a case study
before drawing up any plan," said CMS spokesperson Mahmud Limbada.
"However, our biggest fear is that if Wiehahn is granted the rights to
develop, then the developer may opt out and hand over back to Wiehahan,
who will just willingly develop the land."
The prospect of development has seen a huge public outcry from various
quarters given the implications of the site. Muslim civil society bodies
such as the CMS and the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) have been at the
forefront of a campaign to preserve the site's heritage, where many
significant kramats and graves are located. In August 2004, a thorough
inspection and land survey of Portion 7 revealed that there were 53
graves and 3 kramats located on the land. However, the organizations
argue the possibility that more kramats could exist and would be at risk
if any development took place.
According to Limbada, the developer has reassured that he will preserve
the sites of heritage, religious and cultural significance. "If he is
given the go-ahead, he has promised to preserve the kramats on the land.
He has indicated that he has already appointed archeologists and
historians to plot out the untouchable areas, which will be cordoned
off. Besides the religious value, he said he would not destroy the
natural landscape, which is a key aspect of its importance," said Limbada.
The society has issued an appeal to people living in Bloemfontein to
show their support at the court for the preservation of the Oudekraal
"We urge the Bloemfontein residents to protest at the court so the judge
can see there is a strong public interest in the case. This action may
be instrumental in determining his judgment," he said. VOC (Tasneem Mohamed)
Govt addresses prisoner reviews
By Mosidi Mohlakela (Government Communication and Information System) 14 August 2009
Bloemfontein - Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, Hlengiwe
Mkhize, says the department has taken steps to address discrepancies in
the reviewing of inmates in correctional centres.
She said inmates in correctional facilities that were run privately, as
part of public-private partnerships, should enjoy the same rights as
those in public correctional facilities. The latter are able to have the
classification of their sentences reviewed from being in the Maximum
Security category to a lower security category, such as Medium B.
The deputy minister was speaking during a visit to the Mangaung
Correctional Centre (MCC), a maximum security facility, one of two in
the country managed through a public-private partnership, where a group
of inmates had embarked on a six-day hunger strike in protest of the
facility's reclassification policy.
Many prisoners said they were unhappy about not being reviewed for years
despite being ready and deserving to be in Medium B class prisons.
Previously, the centre, as per its contract with government, was not
mandated to reclassify the inmates.
However, Ms Mkhize said the MCC policy should be aligned with the
department's policies on correctional facilities to make sure all
inmates enjoyed the same rights and treatment.
"We should do away with the difference regarding the reclassification of
inmates and focus on the same objectives of development and
rehabilitation of inmates," she said.
She added that reviewing of the inmates, of whom 700 are serving life
sentences, had begun at the centre.
The deputy minister, however, warned that although the inmate's cases
would now be reviewed to ensure they are indeed ready to be moved to a
lower security facility, the risk factors should be taken into
"We can review our policies but cannot give a guarantee that the inmates
will not revert back to their former ways once in a Medium B prison,"
Another concern the prisoners raised was that they had been put in
facilities which were far away from friends and family. However, Ms
Mkhize said inmates could not be easily transferred because of
overcrowding in other prisons.
She, however, encouraged family members not to shun their relatives who
were carrying out their sentences and provide support for their
The inmates have agreed to suspend their hunger strike. - BuaNews
Rail workers to strike
Reuters 15 August 2009
A South African rail workers' union said on Saturday its members would
strike next week if the state operator did not restart wage talks, the
latest in a wave of industrial action in Africa's biggest economy.
The United Transport and Allied Union (Utatu) said a commuter rail
strike seemed unavoidable after operator Metrorail broke off talks and
agreed a pay deal with the larger South African Transport and Allied
Workers Union (Satawu).
A series of strikes and strike threats in the past few weeks has led to
several above-inflation settlements in South Africa, including
agreements in the gold and coal industries.
State power firm Eskom said on Thursday it had reached an agreement with
unions over pay and a housing policy, averting a strike that could have
led to power cuts and hurt the economy.
The unions helped propel President Jacob Zuma to power and want him to
spend more on the poor, a policy that could be economically risky during
a recession. Zuma said this week there was no "pandering" to labour.
Utatu said in a statement it was on the verge of agreeing a 9,5 percent
pay deal with Metrorail when the operator broke off talks to broker an 8
percent agreement with Satawu. It said that while Satawu was the larger
union, most drivers and technicians are members of Utatu, so a strike
could cripple the rail system.
The union said it was pressing for a bigger wage increase after higher
settlements in other sectors. The government gave council workers a 13
percent pay rise on July 31, nearly double the inflation rate of 6,9
percent for June.
No one at Metrorail could immediately be reached for comment. -
We promise and preen, but now we must deliver
Mac Maharaj In Confidence Published 15 August 2009
The solutions cannot only be technocratic — we also have to learn to do
The plight of our municipalities — protest, prevarication and promise —
were all captured in one short trip to the municipality of Balfour in
President Jacob Zuma’s surprise visit to a municipality that symbolise
communities deprived for far too long, and anger on the edge of
explosion, was without fanfare.
He went to look, see and listen. When he left, some felt this was a new
The residents, caught in a moment of disbelief, warmed to the task of
telling it like it is — without anger or cynicism and with a measure of
Then there was the mayor, absent from his post, who explained away his
absence as a sudden illness, just as he explained the complaints of the
community as matters beyond his mandate and within the remit of the
provincial and central governments.
What kind of beginning can we see in this?
The problems are not new. They are there in the annual reports of the
auditor-general. The central message of his reports is that there have
been no consequences and no one has been held accountable.
During mid-July, the new minister of co-operative governance and
traditional affairs and his deputy launched Operation Clean Audit 2014.
There would be no bonuses for senior civil servants whose departments
receive qualified audits. Clearly, they took to heart the October 2007
message of the auditor-general that enforcing financial operating
disciplines would substantially reduce the number of qualified audits.
Although these are welcome initiatives, there is the nagging memory of
Project Consolidate launched by former president Thabo Mbeki in his 2004
state of the nation address. Through co- ordinated interventions
involving task teams from all three tiers of government, it was intended
to help 136 of our 283 municipalities back to financial health.
Two years later, the municipalities involved in this project were, in
general, no better off than when the project was launched. It was also
not possible to determine whether there had been actual improvements in
The protests that have raged through the country this year come from
poor communities. They speak of a lack of basic provisions such as clean
water, sanitation and electricity. The protests carry a simple message —
the problems are growing deeper and bigger.
There must be valuable lessons to learn from Project Consolidate.
Indeed, there must be a sustained and determined effort to bring the
municipalities to financial health. Rooting out corruption, inculcating
a culture of service, adherence to policies and procedures, building
capacity, employing the right person for the job, and enforcing
transparency and accountability are essential to this campaign.
The problems with regard to the provision of basic services are as
demanding. We have to gear municipalities to expend their full capital
budget, which is a measure of their ability to fulfil their mandate to
provide basic services. In 2006, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro had spent
only 4.9%, the City of Johannesburg only 9.2% and the City of Cape Town
only 7.7% of their respective capital budgets during the first quarter
of the financial year.
As we move forward, we need to keep a firm grasp of the big picture
while paying meticulous attention to the details at local levels. The
solutions cannot only be technocratic — we also have to learn to do
At the political level, we have allowed a passive form of accountability
that is dependent on periodic elections to take root. This enables all
sorts of corrupt practices to develop. Even branch meetings of parties
in power are reduced to battlegrounds for access to tenders. Meanwhile,
communities become disempowered and desperate.
Politicians and bureaucrats avoid creating policies, procedures and
practices that are visible and transparent. National and provincial
governments should assist municipalities to explain to communities their
plans, as embodied in the draft budget. This way, communities will gain
insight into the choices and compromises being made and be able to air
their views before the budget is finalised.
The year’s programme should include mandatory feedback explaining
progress being made and problems encountered.
The entire process should not be a top-down communication exercise. It
should engage and empower the community to give effect to their right to
know and have a say.
Let us find ways to make our democracy active and participatory so that
the relationship between the elected, bureaucracy and electorate becomes
a partnership infused with a dynamism that unleashes the talent and
passion to serve the people.
The space opened by Zuma holds a promise as well as danger. It could end
up as mere hype and a PR stunt, or lead to real community engagement and
improvement in the provision of services. Hou kop, hou koers, Mnr President.
7 -12 August
Residents protest for service delivery in Mfuleni
Nathan Adams (Eyewitness News) 11 August 2009
Residents of the Los Angeles informal settlement near Mfuleni in Cape
Town, have staged a service delivery protest, demanding basic services
like water and electricity.
The protest forced police to block off the Old Faure Road.
The group of disgruntled residents have dispersed, leaving behind the
remnants of their protest.
It’s believed the residents of the informal settlement were protesting
over service delivery.
Police on the scene hovered over the burning tyres and rubble left in
the middle of the road.
Residents broke down an outside toilet and threw pieces of concrete slab
into the road.
Police have not arrested anyone yet but will stay on the scene in case
residents decide to protest again.
(Edited by Danya Philander)
CPUT protests kaput as fee hike dropped
The Cape Argus 8 August 2009
Peace has returned to the Cape Peninsula University of Technology after
the institution's council backed down on a proposed fee increase.
Students will return to classes on Tuesday after an agreement was
reached which includes reversing a council decision to increase an
upfront tuition fee of R3 000 to R5 000 for students in residences, and
from R1 800 to R3 000 for those who live off campus.
Fresh negotiations around a new fee structure will be started and the
SRC has agreed to be part of the meetings, SRC member Anda Bici said
The university erupted into violence this week forcing the
administration to suspend classes on the Cape Town campus as well as at
the Thomas Patullo Building satellite campus on the Foreshore on
Thursday after three days of protest action
During the violent protests police were called in and on several
occasions opened fired with rubber bullets. A total of 37 students were
arrested and have appeared in court. Yesterday students gathered at the
Bellville-South campus where there was a tense stand-off with the
police, but no incidents were reported. The students were waiting to
hear the outcome of the council meeting.
An independent commission of inquiry will be established to look at a
number of other issues, including calls to remove vice-chancellor Vuyisa
Mazwi-Tanga from office and the vandalism that took place throughout the
week, Bici said.
Bici said they were happy to enter into negotiations with management
because they were now confident that their voices would be heard.
"We refused to be part of the processes before, as negotiations were
always biased. Whether we sat in or not, it made no difference. Now we
will listen to one another and negotiate in good faith."
At the time of going to press university officials and the SRC were
still working on a joint press statement.
* This article was originally published on page 6 of The Cape Argus on
August 08, 2009
Back to the books for CPUT students
Jason Warner 9 August 2009
Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) students return to class
Tuesday after an "extraordinary" executive council meeting opened an
investigation into last week's riots.
According to a press release issued by the university, a two-person
committee would "investigate the concerns raised ... and report back in
two weeks time".
"The meeting was convened just for the crisis. Students were allowed in
that meeting to voice their concerns," said CPUT spokesperson Thami
Nkwanyane said the investigators were neutral. "They're not from the
university; they're outside of it all."
The statement also said the university would "facilitate the release of
the students who were arrested" and "all standing expulsions and
disciplinary procedures" would be suspended until after the investigation.
The students were objecting to a decision by the university's council to
increase the upfront payment for next year from R1 800 to R3 000 for
students living off campus and from R2 800 to R5 000 for students in
The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) last
week condemned the university for "serious mismanagement of the
situation". The organisation said the proposed increase of upfront
payments created a "barrier" to the "working class" who struggled to
finance their education.
Damage unacceptable - judge
Karen Breytenbach 10 August 2009
Students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) have been
ordered by the high court not to stage violent protests or damage
property on the campuses, following violent clashes between students and
the police last week.
Three days of protests over an increase in fees payable on registration
next year led to the arrests of 37 students, 34 of whom appeared in
court on charges of public violence and malicious damage to property.
As the university's executive council met on Friday to discuss the
causes of the violence, its legal representatives - Vusi Twala of Cliffe
Dekker Hofmeyr and advocate Ashley Kantor - brought an urgent
application before Western Cape High Court Judge Rosheni Allie to halt
They asked for an interim interdict to prevent further damage to CPUT's
campuses and residences, in the hope of being able to withdraw the
application on Friday if conditions calmed down.
If calm is not restored this week, CPUT is to ask the court on Friday
that certain members of the Students Representative Council be
interdicted from coming within 500 metres of any of the campuses with
the intention of leading violent protests or inciting others to do so.
Judge Allie said she would not curtail the students' democratic rights
to protest and voice their opinions, and would not interdict registered
students from coming onto the campus, but reminded a group of students
present in court that violence and damage to property were unacceptable.
The six respondents, SRC members Zukisa Nokoyo, Vuyo Zita, Thando
Matross, Thato Moloalwa and Anda Bici and former SRC member Saziso
Matiwane, were among the students lining the bench at the back of the
Under the temporary order granted, the respondents may go on to campus
only to use its library, computers and other movable items in the normal
course of their studies.
The order bars them from inciting others to resort to violent protest or
cause damage to CPUT property, especially the main administration block
in Bellville, where the executive council was meeting, or from
intimidating any students, employees, staff or independent contractors
of CPUT on the campuses or in the residences.
They have also been ordered not to publish or distribute documents that
make damaging but untrue comments about CPUT and not to incite others to
The students have a week to file answering papers.
The students, who were represented by their friend, law student Lwandile
Socikwa, were advised to get help in drafting court papers from an
attorney from Legal Aid, the Legal Resources Centre or other such
46 arrested for invading Alex houses
The Sowetan 11 August 2009
Police have arrested 46 people for allegedly occupying RDP houses
already allocated to other people, according to a housing activist.
"The residents were arrested on Friday after they staged a protest and
occupied empty RDP houses," said Daphne Sehota of the Alexandra
Vukuzenzele Crisis Committee.
During the protest police arrested 31 women and 15 men.
They appeared in the West Gate Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday and were
told to go to the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court as they were not charged.
"At the Hilbrow Court the magistrate reportedly left the court and told
them to let him know when they finished processing the activists."
Outside the court other residents were demanding that their fellow
activists be heard in court.
They were later sent to the Johannesburg Prison where they have been
held since their arrest on Friday.
"They were charged with malicious damage to property and trespassing,"
said police spokesman Inspector Moses Maphakela.
Backyard dwellers demand change
Francis Hweshe 11 August 2009
Angry backyard dwellers in Khayelitsha's Mandela Park - who burnt tyres
in the streets of their neighbourhood - have given the provincial
housing department a week to address their concerns or they will
illegally occupy empty housing units in the area.
The residents, who protested there on Monday as police and private
security guards kept a close watch, say they are at their wits' end and
want action now.
Their leader, Loyiso Mfuku, said the residents had previously written to
the department about their issues, but had received no response.
And he said that if the department did not resolve their grievances
soon, they would illegally occupy the 53 empty units in their community.
The backyarders said they were "fed up" with their ANC ward councillor,
Ryder Mkutswana, who they accused of failing them on service delivery.
During their protest on Monday, the backyard dwellers charged that
Mkutswana and SA National Civics Organisation leaders in the area were
"parcelling out" or selling unoccupied RDP houses to their "friends,
relatives and girlfriends".
"The registration process for the houses is shady. They (leaders) are
giving their friends and girlfriends first preference when filling out
forms for the houses," one protester alleged.
Another said: "We want a fresh councillor. We are fed up with Mkutswana.
He is not concerned about us. There is no development in our area.
"We are sick and tired of fraud and corruption."
Yet another, showing off alleged receipts, complained of having bought
an RDP house for R1 500 from a then community leader in 2006, which, he
said, he had never received.
"I want my money back," he complained, alleging that the seller was now
working in the provincial housing department.
The residents also expressed unhappiness over "outsiders from Gugulethu
and Site C" getting "first preference" in the allocation of housing
units in Mandela Park, "while we are getting nothing".
"Our children should occupy these houses," said a mother of three, a
backyarder there for about 20 years.
The residents dispersed only after government official Mbongi Gubuza,
from the housing department, addressed them briefly.
He said Housing MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela was scheduled to address them
Meanwhile, Mkutswana denied any wrongdoing, saying that those who
alleged that he was corrupt should "bring the proof".
He was "hands on" in his constituency, he said, and the "issue of
backyarders is at the top of my list". He said he would ensure that
local backyarders were catered for when the empty units were handed to
their new occupants.
Mkutswana alleged that there was "someone" behind the protest, accusing
the residents of "toyi-toying because they see these things on TV".
Motherwell residents burn tyres in service delivery protest
Rochelle de Kock 11 August 2009
ANGRY Motherwell residents are burning tyres and have blocked off the
Addo Road to protest against poor service and housing delivery.
Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said police were on the scene and
the protest was under control.
This article was originally published on page 4 of Cape Argus on
August 11, 2009
Protests rage in Mfuleni
Nathan Adams 11 August 2009
Los Angeles informal settlement residents near Mfuleni have staged
service delivery protests over the past two days.
Police were called in when disgruntled residents burnt tyres and rubble
on the Old Faure Road next to the N2.
The police's Frederick van Wyk said after toyi-toying on the weekend,
residents protested again on Monday.
"Police used rubber bullets to disperse the people. Two people were
arrested for riotous behaviour."
He added metro police and the SAPS were called in to disperse about 300
residents that gathered on Monday morning.
Legal action considered after municipal strike
Eyewitness News 12 August 2009
The City of Cape Town said it intended taking legal action against
striking municipal workers who went on the rampage during a chaotic
industrial action last month.
During two protest marches held in Bellville and the Cape Town CBD last
month, strikers vandalised city council property.
The council now wants to recoup from trades union the cost of the damage.
The city’s Kylie Hatton said a number of individual cases were being
Saccawu plans strike at Makro, Game, Dion
I-Net Bridge 12 August 2009
The union in the retail sector, Saccawu, said on Friday that it has
failed to resolve its outstanding issues with Massmart stores Makro,
Game and Dion, and is preparing for indefinite strike action from next week.
This follows one-day protest action on July 24.
"We call on Massmart Holdings (Makro, Game & Dion) to respect workers’
rights and the laws of the land and stop intimidating workers engaged in
legitimate industrial action. We further call on them to negotiate in
good faith," said the union on Friday.
It said all strike action would start from as early as August 11.
"We wish to reiterate to the public in general that this strike action
is purely the making of an intransigent anti-union management who is
hellbent on destroying the union and a refusal by them to concede to
very reasonable and modest demands in the context of the current
"Over the recent years including the last financial year these same
companies were among those who showed high levels of profit, now claim
they can’t afford these demands," said the union.
SABC settles wage dispute with unions
SABC News Online 11 August 2009
The wage dispute between the public broadcaster’s management and
employees has come to an end. Last week, Broadcasting, Electronic Media
and Allied Workers Union union members agreed to the 10% wage increase
and today Communication Workers Union (CWU) and Media Workers'
Association of South Africa (Mwasa) agreed on the same terms.
The employees will be paid the 8.5% increase backdated to April 2009 and
a further 1.5% which will be effected in December and also backdated to
“We are extremely elated as the SABC to have CWU and MWASA finally agree
on the terms of our negotiations. We are proud. It was an enduring,
torturously long negotiations and this agreement means that people will
be paid within the next five days. The situation has been stabilised,
now its time to work,” says South African Broadcasting Corporation
(SABC) CEO Gab Mampone.
SABC staff embarked on their most vocal protest last month. They
prevented non-striking employees from entering the SABC building in
Auckland Park, Johannesburg, and threatened to block access to the
studios of people due to be interviewed on SABC programmes.
During the strike, there were serious problems in national television
and radio broadcasting when SABC staff walked off the job. The SABC’s
popular Morning Live show started 14 minutes late on one occasion as a
result of the workers downing tools. The unions initially demanded a
12.2% increase as agreed upon in a multi-term agreement but eventually
settled for 10%
City warns commuters of mini-bus taxi strike
Sapa 11 August 2009
The City of Cape Town has warned commuters of a minibus-taxi strike
beginning on Wednesday and advised them to consider using alternative
The Western Cape National Taxi Alliance (WC-NTA) had indicated it would
be embarking on a strike, the city said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The city has had several meetings with the Western Cape National Taxi
Alliance and has negotiated in good faith to address their concerns
which include traffic fines, permits and warrants for arrest," it said.
The WC-NTA had committed to the city and the mayor to raise issues in
the interest of building good relationships.
The city respected people's right to protest, but any act of violence
and intimidation would not be tolerated, it said.
The city would provide additional law and traffic enforcement in support
of the SA Police Service to prevent this.
The public were asked to report any incidents of violence or
intimidation to the city's Metro Police Control Centre on 021-596-1999.
Even-handed' approach to quell tension
Sibusiso Mboto 10 August 2009
Complaints by ANC and IFP supporters about police heavy-handedness
illustrate the tougher stance taken by police in the Greytown area in
dealing with the political tensions over the recent killings of
councillors and other political activists.
Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu has expressed
this view on the eve ahead of a march by the IFP Women's Brigade in
The march is in protest at the recent murders of councillors, and over
the by-elections on Wednesday in Ntembisweni, outside Greytown.
Mchunu expressed optimism about the by-elections, and said the police
had worked hard at defusing tensions.
While locals were fearful of attacks, the provincial government had
taken steps to ensure the safety of voters during and after the
by-elections, he said.
"These include the possibility of roping in the army if necessary."
Praising the police, Mchunu said: "When both ANC and IFP supporters
complain about (police) conduct, it means they are doing a good job. We
would be worried if the complaints were only from one side."
Mchunu is to meet Local Government and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa
Dube and other MPLs to discuss the monitoring of the by-elections.
The provincial chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Mawethu
Mosery, said polling stations would close at 5pm to ensure voters
returned home before nightfall.
Sexwale's Slumber parties fail to impress NGOs and
Mail & Guardian 9 August 2009
Residents of Diepsloot were less than starry-eyed this week after a
visit by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale. Diepsloot is one of
many areas where service delivery failures have provoked incensed
community members to take to the streets in protest.
Sexwale confidently made his way through the smelly sludge in narrow
alleyways in Diepsloot on Monday.
Attended mostly by members of his department, local councillors and
journalists, he said government officials need to expose themselves to
the conditions in which poor people live. "I am here today on a
listening campaign," he said. "I want to know, who are you, what are you
doing here, what do you want and what made you come here?"
He was embarking on a "journey" to assure residents that the government
wants to put an end to informal settlements, he said.
Most residents felt that it was just another political campaign.
Even the minister's three-hour nap in one of Diepsloot's cold,
windowless shacks failed to impress residents.
"I don't buy into this publicity stunt," said Tshediso Kesi (30), a
shack dweller who has lived in Diepsloot since 2000. Kesi said Sexwale's
visit and sleeping in a shack was a joke and very patronising.
"Look, the minister only wanted to calm us down after the protest. He is
not the first top politician to visit Diepsloot and he is not the last.
He thinks sleeping in a shack makes a difference ... we have been
sleeping in them for years."
Thamaga Masekoameng (24), who is unemployed, thought the minister
sounded genuine and that his visit showed that he is concerned. But
"that's how all politicians operate", he said. "We have heard it all
before and unfortunately we will continue hearing these empty promises."
Masekoameng and his mother, Mmamoshibudi, settled in their one-room
shack in the mid-1990s and said they have applied for RDP housing more
than five times.
Said Masekoameng: "When we asked Tokyo about houses, he did not give us
a clear answer ... he only gave us a lecture on government budgets and
history. He only came here to console us.
"He is fooling us ... there's no way that this matter is going to be
solved now. We'll just wait for the next elections."
Political analysts NGOs and service delivery experts agree with
Diepsloot & Joe Slovo residents.
"Indeed, it was a PR campaign," said Dr Ubesh Pillay, a service delivery
specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council.
"Since communities feel that conventional mechanisms of dealing with
local government have failed, some form of higher-level intervention is
Pillay said that after Sexwale's visit to Diepsloot, Joe Slovo, Langa,
Guguethu, Delft and President Jacob Zuma's to Balfour, residents will
expect follow-through. Without that, perceptions will strengthen that
the visits are no more than PR exercises.
Pillay said building houses in Diepsloot and other informal settlements
is not a solution.
"Many communities would like their informal dwellings and shacks upgraded.
"In some cases residents prefer this to formal housing, as an informal
settlement may be closer to economic opportunities."
To deal effectively with poor service delivery, a short-term improvement
plan in the most affected areas is necessary in addition to more
ambitious national goals.
Aubrey Matshiqi , an independent political observer, said the PR aspect
of Sexwale's visit does not mean the government is unconcerned about the
problems poor people were facing.
"The visit shows that the minister cares -- but it should not suggest
that the residents' problems will be solved any time soon," he said.
Sexwale and his team will visit other townships across the country where
there have been reports of poor service delivery, including the N2
Gateway in Cape Town and some townships in the Buffalo City, Mangaung
and Durban areas.
Zuma's visit to Balfour: What actually happened?
Karabo Keepile 6 August 2009
President Jacob Zuma paid a visit to Balfour this week in the wake of
recent service delivery protests. Listen to an interview with the mayor
and watch a slide show.
The day the president came knocking
President Jacob Zuma’s surprise visit to Balfour, Mpumalanga, this week
certainly ruffled a few feathers.
The mayor Lefty Tsotetsi was not in his office -- ostensibly because of
an upset stomach -- but he rushed back when alerted to Zuma’s visit.
Zuma paid a flying visit to the area in the wake of recent service
delivery protests, in which government buildings and shops belonging to
foreign nationals were razed to the ground.
Zuma's visit to Balfour: What actually happened?
President Jacob Zuma paid a visit to Balfour this week the wake of
recent service delivery protests. Listen to an interview with the mayor
and watch a slide show.
Mayoral secretary Douwlina Pretorious was reported to have been so
surprised by Zuma’s entrance that she dropped a plate of food, but she
told the M&G that this was not the case.
Twenty-four hours after Zuma’s visit, Tsotetsi received another
unannounced visit: from the M&G. This time Tsotetsi was at his desk and
in a meeting with his municipal manager, Patrick Malebye.
Pretorious said she wanted to set the record straight.
M&G: So what happened yesterday?
Douwlina Pretorious: We were sitting here working in my office, myself,
as well as my daughter and then a lot of bodyguards came in. They asked
if I am the secretary and I confirmed that I am the secretary for the
mayor, then they said they have got a visitor for me and then I said OK
then let him come in, and then the next moment the president walked in
and I was very shocked but I didn’t drop a plate of food. There was no
journalist in this office, it was bodyguards, the president, me, and my
M&G: So you are saying the Times just came up with that story?
M&G: What were you thinking when you saw the president?
DP: I was surprised. I mean, you don’t expect something like that to
happen in Balfour, but it was a great surprise. He greeted us, asked us
how’s Balfour, made conversation and then he just waited a few seconds
for the mayor.
M&G: Where was the mayor at that time?
DP: I don’t know if I can answer that.
M&G: So you don’t know where he was?
DP: I know where he was. (Pretorious looks at the communications
officer, Mohlalefi Lebotha, who answers “But the mayor told you where he
was. He says he was at home sick.”)
DP: Yes, he was at home. He was sick. It’s the truth he was here until
about 11 o’clock. I can say that if I am allowed to. As personnel, we
are not allowed to talk to press so that is why I am asking him
[Lebotha]. He was at home, that I told the president and he was fine
with that and he said don’t phone him and I said ‘No we can’t do that,’
and then I phoned the mayor and he said, ‘No, I am already on my way’.
M&G: So he wasn’t just taking a day off?
DP: No, never. I have worked with him for three years and not once has
he just taken a day off.
Cut the stunts and do something real
BOLEKAJA! – Andile Mngxitama (Sowetan) 11 August 2009
MINISTER of human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale spent one night with the
Diepsloot poor – then he wrote a blow-by-blow account for the newspapers.
Apparently he is now armed with the views and concerns of that
communities’ poor and will be handing in a report to the cabinet.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this comical political posturing.
The minister undertook this act of experiencing poverty for one night in
full view of the admiring media. He endured, he reports, a night of
The ministers dramatics remind me of my shock and outrage at my first
experience of Parliament.
I was there to make a submission for an amendment of farmworkers’ laws
to give them a little more protection.
I was struck by how black parliamentarians demanded facts and
“scientific” evidence that farmworkers in South Africa were living under
conditions of semi-slavery.
I wondered what could have induced this amnesia in people, some of whom
had experienced farm life directly.
We used to joke that once you get a big job in government or become a
politician they give you an amnesia pill.
What did Tokyo Sexwale think he could discover from shack life that is
not already known by every black person his age?
The one-night forays of the minister into the dangerous battlefield of
Diepsloot sounds and feels like a huge publicity stunt.
This comes down to turning our political and developmental challenges
into a soap opera to amuse the masses and keep them hoping.
But it also shows up the disingenuousness of politicians.
Sexwale forgets completely that most people in Diepsloot were dumped
there by the ANC government with promises of a better life for all.
In fact, the minister has already blamed the “previous regime” for the
service delivery protests we are witnessing right now.
By previous regime he doesn’t mean the apartheid government but the ANC
under Thabo Mbeki.
Sexwale has even forgotten that he was once the premier of Gauteng and
so belongs to the “previous regime” himself.
The Sunday Times reported that Sexwale is buying a whole island in
Mozambique – yet the people he represents, and in whose interests he had
gone into exile and to jail, continue to live precarious lives in shacks
and in poverty.
Is this not the simple reality that must make us question what it means
to be free? Hasn’t our freedom been sold under the tables of BEE deals?
The housing question is a problem inherited by the post-1994 government.
It needs a fundamentally different and democratic means to solve it.
This solution must be related to other developmental challenges, such as
income generation and livelihoods for the people.
Building houses is not rocket science. But instead of empowering
communities we have surrendered this area to white construction
monopolies that have made shocking profits.
A few examples since 2004: Aveng Group profits have grown by 1 854
percent from R170m in 2004 to R3,3bn in 2008, Murray and Roberts is up
by 516 percent from R415m to R2,6bn and WBHO is up by 745 percent from
R128m to just over R1bn.
It’s embarrassing but true that the matchbox houses built in the
apartheid era are of a higher standard than most RDP houses our
government has built.
We need to cut out the spectacles and get down to doing the simplest things.
Revolt a symptom of historical pain
Josette Cole Cape Argus 8 August 2009
There are moments in one's life, especially in the life of a political
activist, social historian and, community development practitioner, when
you are challenged to make a choice about where to focus energy.
After several years of still being active but somewhat publicly
"silent", I have decided to become a bit more publicly vocal, adding my
voice, shaped and influenced by three decades of continuing commitment
to attain political, social and economic justice, to the many voices
(some old, some new) aired in the media on our country's complex and
sometimes contradictory political and civic affairs.
Doing this is not something I take lightly, given the cut and thrust of
South African political life, especially in the political and
socio-economic quagmire of the Western Cape, the place where I was born
and will, most probably, die.
So where to begin? I guess with some thoughts on one of the central news
stories of the day - service delivery protests and growing evidence of a
largely dysfunctional local government system.
I am one of a rare breed of South African citizens, the kind who never
gets totally surprised or depressed by the ins and outs and
contradictions of national, provincial or municipal politics, wide scale
generational (chronic) poverty, political tendencies, or social trends.
What surprises me more is that it has taken so long to occur. I know
from my own work and experience of my beloved country just how
deep-seated the anger and rage is.
What we must never forget is that while our experiences of life under
apartheid may be different, with perspectives shaped by our own
circumstances - political or self-imposed exile, prison, actively
fighting the apartheid government on the streets, part of implementing
the apartheid government's policies or in its security apparatus, a
citizen or businessman or woman sitting on the fence or one of the many
who either buried their heads in the sand, a bottle of wine or a bottle
of Klipdrift - we are essentially a wounded nation and in need of deep
Touch the pain and you unleash a rage that runs like a red thread and
festering sore, manifesting in "xenophobic" attacks, militant labour
strikes, and increasingly violent service delivery protests.
Understanding or unravelling some of what is going on, getting to the
root causes of current events, demands remembering and, linking, the
past to the present. Let's start with revisiting a story, entitled
"Backyarders and politics behind violence", in Weekend Argus last
Saturday, about the recent protests in the Masiphumelele settlement
located along Kommetjie Road.
This is the community that first evicted "foreigners" from their homes
at the start of last year's "xenophobic" attacks and then publicly
apologised and re-embraced those evicted back into the area.
Reasons given for the protests range from what a local ANC spokesperson
describes as the pent-up frustration of more than 4 000 backyard shack
dwellers facing eviction from the area to make way for new housing
development to the City of Cape Town's mayco member for economic
development and tourism, who views the protests as "politically
motivated and part of continuing destabilisation of the Western Cape by
This is a rather strange view on the ANC's political strength in a
province where the party's election defeat resulted in the removal of
the ANC's entire provincial leadership by the NEC, a public admission of
the party's disconnection from its political and social base.
But the voice that really got my attention in the article is that of
former National Party member, now the DA's chosen chairman of the
Western Cape's parliamentary portfolio committee for community safety,
He tells readers that the "community (has) grown from 100 people to 25
000" in the last 20 years, that "any government in the world would
struggle to cope with a population explosion like that" and, that
"resorting to violence would not attract overseas donors".
Oh, my word, where does one begin to respond? I guess by going back to
Let me explain why I say that history (and memory) matters.
Masiphumelele is not the result of a random act of settlement history in
the City of Cape Town.
It is the outcome of a long and bitter struggle for the rights of black
people, most of whom worked in the South Peninsula, for the right to
live in what was then a prescribed "white" Group Area.
Left with no alternative, people lived in makeshift zinc and wood homes
in the bushes in and around the Noordhoek/Kommetjie area for many years.
The issue came to a head in April 1986 when the then owner of Dassenberg
Farm in Noordhoek, where most people lived at the time, threatened the
people with eviction.
How do I know all of this? Because at the time I was the director of the
Surplus People Project (SPP), an NGO that actively and publicly
supported the rights of black people to land and housing (tenure) in the
The very same Wiley just happens to have been one of the people more
vociferous about the need to remove the "Noordhoek Squatters" from the area.
There followed a brutal and military-style forced removal (complete with
helicopters) that relocated the entire community, in army trucks, to the
dumping fields of a then very barren Khayelitsha (late 1987).
Wiley certainly did not oppose this removal. Within months the people
organised their own bakkies and kombis, moving back en masse during one
night to a piece of publicly owned land across the road from the former
Dassenberg Farm site.
In 1989, after raids by the government's Squatter Prevention Unit and
running court battles against eviction orders, residents were offered
land in the area, thereby becoming the city's first recognised "black
spot" in a white Group Area. In the early 1990s, through a process of
local-level negotiations between the community and the Cape Provincial
Administration, the community agreed to relocate to the site where they
It was one of five sites (Site Five) they investigated with the support
of NGOs like the Development Action Group and SPP and subsequently
Given this community's deeply politicised settlement history why in the
world would I be surprised to learn that families are actively refusing
to move to far away Delft?
What surprises me is why whoever came up with this option expected more
than 4 000 families living in the community to acquiesce and quietly
relocate. Also, how recycled politicians like Mark Wiley just keep
turning up, even still setting up Joint Operation Centres to "protect
police living in Masiphumelele and members of political parties other
than the ANC"?
When is the penny going to drop? Touch a pain that runs deep and has not
yet healed and you will unleash our people's rage and anger.
The time is long gone for the arrival of a more nuanced, historically
informed, and sensitive development approach and practice on the part of
politicians, planners, and public officials trying to address the
challenges of post-apartheid social and community development.
History tells us that those who choose to ignore, or write themselves
out of, this country's deeply traumatic social history, do so at their
# Josette Cole is a former UDF activist and director of the Surplus
People Project and is the founder and chairwoman of the Mandlovu
Development Trust. She is the author of Crossroads: The Politics of
Reform and Repression.
7 10 August 2009
Thousands strike at Telkom
Reuters 3 August 2009
Thousands of workers at South African fixed-line group Telkom began
striking on Monday, South Africa’s Communications Workers Union said,
the latest industrial action to hit the country despite recession.
Contingency plans over looming Telkom strike
Telkom staff to go on strike
Telkom strike will put entire country on hold
The protest at Telkom, Africa’s biggest fixed-line telephone operator,
began only days after the end of a five-day strike by tens of thousands
of council workers that saw rubbish pile up on the country’s streets and
key services paralysed.
The union, which represents 44 000 workers, said about 3 500 Telkom
workers in four of South Africa’s nine provinces began the two-day
strike to push their demands for pay increases.
"We expect that quite a sizable number of our members will heed the call
for a stayaway," CWU General-Secretary Gallant Roberts told Reuters.
"In the process some of the members in those provinces will also be
picketing at some of the Telkom establishments."
The wave of strikes in South Africa have challenged President Jacob
Zuma’s economic policies over the past month, as the unions that helped
bring him to power in April elections flexed their muscles, seeking a
payback for their support.
Zuma is in a difficult position. He is indebted to unions that are a
crucial part of his support base, but boosting government spending could
worry foreign investors in the midst of South Africa’s first recession
To end the council strike, officials were forced to agree a 13% pay
rise, just below the 15% demanded by the unions and almost double the
Further double-digit pay settlements in the private and public sectors
would put added strain on Africa’s biggest economy, compounding the
impact of a 31,3% increase in electricity prices last month to drive
Pressure on the government has also come from poor township residents,
who have demonstrated to back their demands for better living conditions
for millions of blacks who still lack adequate housing, electricity and
water 15 years after the end of apartheid.
Rhodes workers still not satisfied
Guy Martin 6 August 2009
Several hundred Rhodes University staff have been on strike since the
beginning of this week and have been marching through campus in protest
against the recent adjustment in the payment of support staff.
“Everybody is angry and frustrated at the way the university is handling
this issue,” said Sam Mzangwa from the National Education, Health and
Allied Workers Union (Nehawu). “The workers wanted to march and vent out
“Now it's time we show to the whole campus we are not angry but
dissatisfied,” said marcher Gladman Kondza.
Around 500 staff members went on strike, from pay grades one through
five. These include catering, housekeeping, estate, messenger and
They are protesting against the recent salary adjustment that came into
effect on 1 July. Rhodes agreed to distribute R10-million among the
lowest paid workers but Nehawu is arguing that too much went to the
middle grades (6-18). The union is also concerned about the slim
retirement plans of the lower grades. “That ten million has gone mainly
to the skilled workers to attract and retain them.” Mzangawa said. “To
us it's a kind of an insult.”
“We did not want to go on this strike but we were forced to by Rhodes,”
said Mzangwa. He added that Rhodes was reluctant to talk with Nehawu and
had been preparing for a strike. However, Rhodes University spokesperson
Lebogang Hashatse said informal discussions had been taking place.
Teaching is continuing as normal and contingency plans have been put in
place for security, housekeeping and catering, according to Zamuxolo
Matiwana, Rhodes Internal Communications Officer. Residences have drawn
up cleaning rosters and students are taking over cleaning duties. The
dining halls are especially hard hit, but staff from other departments
at Rhodes and students have been volunteering to help out.
“It's a huge inconvenience for the rest of us, especially in res,” said
Wiseman Ngubo, a third year student. He added, “If this strike didn't
affect us I think we wouldn't care.”
Some students are supportive of the strikers. “They have a right.
They're people and should be treated like people,” said student Juni
Demirkiran. However, others complain that the union is being
unreasonable and should not be striking during a recession. Other
students are unhappy that residence life has been interrupted. “We have
to clean toilets! Ugh!” said Mabocha Mokobane, a third year student in
residence. Rhodes is not sure how long the strike will last but will try
and keep it to less than a week.
Management closes CPUT
Quinton Mtyala and Jo-Anne Smetherham 6 August 2009
Classes have been suspended at the Cape Peninsula University of
Technology's (CPUT) city campus following three days of often violent
protests over proposed fee increases.
Earlier on Wednesday students were forced to flee and 37 were later
arrested as police opened fire with rubber bullets.
In a terse statement on Wednesday night, university spokesman Thami
Nkwanyane said: "The executive management this afternoon decided to
suspend classes on the Cape Town Campus as well as at the Thomas Patullo
Building (satellite campus) following three days of protest action by
"Classes will only be suspended on Thursday and Friday. Lectures on
other CPUT campuses will continue as normal."
Anda Bici, a member of CPUT's student representative council which had
called the strike on Monday, was equally terse on Tuesday night: "We'll
do whatever it takes to make our voices heard even if the university is
Earlier police spokesperson Carin Loock said those arrested would be
charged with public violence.
The violence follows the university's failure to agree to the scrapping
of all proposed fee increases, as demanded in a memorandum student
leaders presented to management on Tuesday.
At the university's last council sitting in June it was proposed that
registration fees be increased from R2 800 to R5 000 for those students
living in residences and from R1 800 to R3 000 for those off campus.
Among other demands was the removal of Vice-Chancellor Vuyisa Mazwi-Tanga.
Shortly after midday students fled down Caledon Street, opposite an
entrance to the campus.
Some were later cornered by police in a cul-de-sac, where most were
Police continued shooting at protesters, who retaliated with rocks while
others fled to the city centre where police chased them as they mixed
with lunchtime crowds on the Grand Parade as market stalls provided the
"The position of student leadership is that we won't surrender. I'm
angry, I'm numb, I can't understand why the management called SAPS to
shoot at us."
Douglas Fivaz of CP Securities, who were called in to guard the campus,
said three of his officers were hurt when students pelted them with rocks.
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Times
on August 06, 2009
Students protest over lack of hot water
Sapa 6 August 2009
Lectures at the University of Limpopo's Turfloop campus came to a halt
on Thursday after about 300 students demonstrated over what they termed
the institution's deteriorating state, management said.
"We hear that they are complaining over the lack of hot water,"
university spokesman Kgalema Mohuba said.
"They also complained about transport issues and that printers were not
working, but none of these complaints were lodged with us," he said.
Students closed the library and lecture halls complaining about, among
other things, sub-minimum exam entrance marks and the employment of
"We do not understand how they could infringe on the democratic right of
others to attend classes," Mohuba said.
"We will call on the law enforcement agencies to intervene if the
situation gets out of control."
After police were called to the campus, the crowd dispersed.
Mohuba said classes would go ahead on Friday. - Sapa
5- 6 August
96 in court after plea for PetroSA shutdown jobs
Cathy Dippnall (The Herald) 6 August 2009
Mossel Bay offshore rig shutdown in interests of safety
SOUTHERN Cape police arrested 96 residents of KwaNonqaba near Mossel Bay yesterday after they staged an illegal protest to demand jobs from state
fuel company PetroSA.
The residents were arrested shortly after about 120 people started a
protest march at a petrol station on the N2 highway near the refinery.
They were complaining about tenders and jobs going to “outsiders” for
PetroSA’s 37-day annual maintenance of its gas-to-liquids refinery and
offshore natural gas rig during the October shutdown period.
“The community said they believed they were not benefiting from job
opportunities at PetroSA,” said police spokesman Captain Malcolm Pojie.
The marchers appeared in the Mossel Bay Magistrate’s Court yesterday
afternoon and were released on free bail. PetroSA spokesman Russel
Mamabolo said the company was surprised by the march, organised by a
civic group called Sanco Mossel Bay.
“We didn’t know about the march until we heard about it from community
Mamabolo said PetroSA had met local community stakeholders on numerous
occasions and had explained how recruitment would be conducted for the
firm’s shutdown activities.
“The company is now surprised that the issue of the employment of local
people during shutdown, raised by Sanco, is brought to the fore while
recruitment has not yet begun,” Mamabolo said.
Recruitment adverts, posters and pamphlets would be distributed within
the community today, he added.
Earlier this year, PetroSA appointed engineering management contractors
Kentz and Grinaker LTA to oversee the R495-million annual maintenance
programme at the end of next month.
At the time, shutdown manager Sesakho Magadla said the decision to
employ outside contractors was made in 2006 to “mitigate the risk of
PetroSA acting operations vice president Michael Nene yesterday said
preference would be given to people from Mossel Bay and surrounding
areas, “but the notion that people will be employed in big numbers is
naive, especially during these tough economic conditions”.
Nene said very few general workers would be employed, but there would be
opportunities for people with previous shutdown experience as well as
Zuma surprises troubled community
By Thandi Skade August 5 August 2009
The cries of residents of Siyathemba township in Mpumalanga, where the
recent wave of service delivery protests started, has reached President
Jacob Zuma's ear.
Zuma on Tuesday paid a surprise visit to the troubled community to find
out for himself what the residents' concerns were.
He promised a reconfiguration of government and municipality structures,
assuring residents that their cries for basic services, including a
police station, a hospital and a school, would not go unheard.
He acknowledged that things needed to change, saying: "We are already
saying the government must operate differently."
His strategy for now, he said, was to inform Parliament on what he had
learnt so that a programme to address the specific needs of communities
could be rolled out.
He could, however, not provide a timeframe in which the programme would
In addition, he said municipalities needed to be audited and that those
lacking basic services needed to be prioritised.
As Zuma's convoy pulled into the dusty streets of the township, hordes
of residents gathered, screaming "my president".
He got out of his car and greeted a number of the residents while
listening intently to their grievances.
Key issues raised by residents included the lack of a police station;
the incorporation into Mpumalanga without consultation; unemployment;
and a lack of housing and health facilities.
Resident David Mosuwe told Zuma he wanted the area to be incorporated
into Gauteng because Joburg was more accessible in terms of sports
facilities than Nelspruit.
Residents also complained about the Home Affairs office, which is
allegedly open only twice a week.
The nearest Home Affairs office after that is 18km away, at a taxi ride
cost of R32.
Meanwhile, Siyathemba residents said promises made by mayor Lefty
Tsotetsi two weeks ago had once again turned to naught.
During an address on July 22, Tsotetsi promised residents that youth
employment and development would take priority and that a "youth council
in consultation with you" would be formed before August.
Tutu denounces trashing of streets by striking workers
Sapa 5 August 2009
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on Tuesday condemned the recent
trashing of streets by striking municipal workers, saying their
behaviour did not advance the cause of unionism.
"I get annoyed when people trash streets and say that they are
exercising their rights. They exercise their rights by infringing on
other people's rights," he said in Durban.
Speaking at the 25th anniversary of Tree, an organisation that
specialises in early childhood development, Tutu said many had died for
rights and freedom in South Africa.
"Is this the freedom we fought for? People who died while fighting for
these rights must be turning in their graves."
Tutu also raised concerns about affirmative action and expressed
dissatisfaction with how it was implemented.
"I believe in affirmative action, but the way we have done it gives
affirmative action a bad name. We put people in positions where they are
bound to fail."
He said the correct way to do it was by putting people under the
tutelage of those who had experience.
"We have had collapses in some towns such as Mthatha because of
affirmative action that went wrong. We must acknowledge where we have
Service-delivery hot spots
Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma has vowed to visit all areas in the
country plagued by service-delivery problems and protests, South African
Broadcasting Corporation news reported on Tuesday.
The government might have to "reprioritise" some of its programmes as a
result of recent service-delivery protests, he said after visiting
Balfour in Mpumalanga.
Several government buildings and shops belonging to foreign nationals
were burnt down during protests in the area last month.
"Places like Balfour, which seem to be very remote, that's the places
I'm going to be going to, unannounced, all the time, to get to know what
are the problems, why didn't we deliver certain things," Zuma said.
While warning against violence and crime during protests, he said
residents' concerns were valid and he would raise some of their problems
with relevant Cabinet ministers. -- Sapa
4-5 Augtust 2009
Vandalism deliberate - CPUT students
Thandanani Mhlanga and Nikita Sylvester 4 August 2009
Students were expected to gather on the Cape Town and Bellville campuses
of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) on Tuesday morning
to discuss climbing tuition fees, and to embark on a second day of protests.
Anda Bici, the chairman of the CPUT's central Student Representative
Council (SRC), said on Tuesday morning that by 8am students had already
started gathering on both campuses to discuss how the day's protest
On Tuesday students ran amok at both campuses, trashing the interior of
several buildings and, on the Cape Town campus, raided the cafeteria.
They emptied shelves, fridges and stole money from cash registers.
Police had to fire rubber bullets at protesting students in Cape Town in
order to disperse them.
This came after students had pelted police with rocks, and after police
had given students a warning ordering them to clear the area.
In Bellville, students went to the second floor of the main
administration building and searched for Vice-Chancellor Vuyisa
Mazwi-Tanga, who they believed was hiding in the building.
After several minutes inside the building, with no response from
administrators, the students started throwing milk cartons and boxes of
"There's going to be litter, there's going to be graffiti," said the
central SRC's Maducu Mante.
He said students were willing to use any means necessary to have their
The SRC told the Cape Argus that vandalism was done "wholly on purpose",
because students wanted to make the point that the way they were
allegedly being treated by management was illegal.
Police vans raced to the scene to drive students out of the building.
Some students blocked the entrance of the administration building so
that staff could not leave their offices, but dispersed after the SRC
asked them to do so.
The students were due to meet again on Tuesday at 8am.
One student was arrested in Tuesday's fracas in Bellville, on charges of
public disturbance and damage to property.
In Cape Town, hundreds of chanting students descended on CPUT's central
campus, marched through a number of faculty buildings and broke into one
of the cafeterias.
Some protesters broke down the glass door of one cafeteria, then cleaned
out the fridges, took everything off the shelves and raided the cash
The institution's registrar, Alwyn van Gensen, said yesterday that
students had misunderstood the extent to which CPUT would push its
tuition fees up next year.
Students said that CPUT would hike its fees by R5 000 in 2010.
But Van Gensen said final fees for 2010 had not been decided upon.
Instead, the upfront payment required had been debated by CPUT's council
and would be increased from R1 800 to R3 000.
This article was originally published on page 3 of The Cape Argus
on August 04, 2009
Cape Peninsula university suspends classes
Classes at the Cape Peninsula University were suspended following
protest action by students who were unhappy with proposed fee increases.
Classes at the Cape Peninsula University were suspended on Monday
following protest action by students.
The central student representative council's deputy president Tinyiko
Masondo said students were unhappy with proposed fee increases for next
He said thousands of students had gathered outside the gates of the
Belville campus to await feedback.
Masondo said students on all campuses would continue boycotting classes
on Tuesday if the fees were raised.
Cops 'shoot' violent CPUT students
By Natasha Joseph 4 August 2009
Riot police and students clashed violently at the Cape Peninsula
University of Technology's (CPUT) Bellville campus on Monday as protests
over service delivery, facilities and fees continued for a third day.
On Monday CPUT's Cape Town central campus was the scene of a mass
demonstration which turned violent on Tuesday with police firing rubber
bullets and stun grenades at students who had attacked them with stones.
Tuesday's events culminated in the arrest of five people, four of whom
were charged with public violence and one of whom was held on suspicion
On Monday, the protests moved to Bellville and, by noon, 1 000 students
were gathered outside the institution's main administration building
demanding answers from CPUT vice-chancellor Vuyisa Mazwi-Tanga about
what they described as high fees and poorly maintained facilities.
Mazwi-Tanga, surrounded by police officers and red-jacketed security
officials brought in by the institution for major events and protests,
told students that she had received a copy of the memorandum submitted
to her on Thursday.
However, she had "not made time" to read the memorandum - a statement
which was greeted with roars of derision by the crowd - because Friday
was a public holiday and she had been engaged in meetings on Monday and
Tuesday, Mazwi-Tanga said.
She said a meeting would be held between senior managers and student
leadership yesterday afternoon, although she would only be able to join
the meeting later in the day.
"We will then outline our programme of action, and the (Student
Representative Council) will consult you (about our decisions)," she
told the crowd. Before moving back into the administration building,
Mazwi-Tanga said: "I always treat the students at CPUT with respect."
The assembled students jeered and booed in response to this.
Some students dispersed, but the majority moved away from the
administration building and blocked the main entrance of the campus,
overturning dustbins and using potato crisp packets or black bags to
cover security cameras which had been recording their every move.
Cars which tried to exit the campus using the main interchange were
turned back by students.
Student leaders attempted to keep the demonstrators from leaving campus,
but a large group defied these instructions and continued to move
towards Modderdam Road, just outside CPUT's main gates.
When police cars with flashing lights and sirens pulled up outside the
institution, some students ran towards them before stopping and turning
back towards the campus.
At 2.30pm, a student leader announced that Mazwi-Tanga had refused to
meet a delegation made up of representatives from several student
political groups which had asked to join the SRC group.
Students then started pelting the administration building with naartjies
and rushed towards the building, which prompted the red-jacketed
security guards to retaliate with truncheons and teargas.
An hour later, staff were evacuated from the administration building.
At 4pm, the protest turned violent: a police riot vehicle drove slowly
towards the students. It was pelted with rocks, and police retaliated
with rubber bullets and stun grenades.
Students scattered in all directions, many screaming, and at least one
woman was knocked unconscious in the chaos.
A female student was treated for a minor injury to her stomach.
The SRC issued a statement late on Monday in which it vowed that
"commotion, brouhaha and 100% breach of peace are going to rule the day
until management deliver on our demands".
University spokesman Norman Jacobs said late on Monday that the
institution would issue a statement today, as the meeting between
Mazwi-Tanga and student leaders was ongoing.
How many more migrants must die?
Recent 'service delivery protests' assumed a xenophobic tone. Now we
must address the issue of tolerance, and the upholding and protecting of
migrants' rights, writes Kate Lefko-Everett
Kate Lefko-Everett (The Mercury) 4 August 2009
RECENT weeks have seen the outbreak of numerous collective actions by
South Africans, including strikes, protracted wage disputes and protests
over service delivery, in communities across the country.
In spite of President Jacob Zuma's campaign trail promises about
bringing government closer to citizens and prioritising a pro-poor
agenda, service delivery protests demonstrate that South Africans are
unwilling to wait indefinitely for improvements in, for example,
electrification and water services and, importantly, more responsiveness
and accountability from local government.
The notable rise in these actions in the past few years - referred to
almost universally as "service delivery protests" - signifies that many
citizens feel unable to influence government policy and decision-making,
that their views are not sufficiently taken into account, and that the
channels open to them for public participation - such as public
hearings, izimbizo and integrated development planning processes - are
often inaccessible or ineffectual.
This growing discontent, and the sense among South Africans that their
voices can only be heard through protests, has serious implications for
trust and confidence in the legitimacy of government, and potentially,
for compliance with the law.
Ascribing the failure to effectively address these issues to this
administration or the last for the purposes of scoring political points
is not a useful distraction from getting to the work ahead, and quickly.
A further worrying trend, however, is the xenophobic and anti-foreign
tone that a number of protests ostensibly over "service delivery" issues
have reportedly assumed. Several protests have descended into violence
and attacks on migrants, their homes and their businesses.
In Mpumalanga, foreign nationals have been evacuated from some volatile
communities, after targeted looting and vandalising of businesses.
However, it is critically important that in addressing citizen
dissatisfaction with service delivery and government accountability,
these issues do not become conflated with the separate and crucially
important problem of ongoing xenophobia in South Africa.
The issue of greater tolerance, and the upholding and protecting of the
rights of migrants within South Africa's borders, is a longstanding one,
and after 15 years of democracy, has still not been effectively
addressed. Numerous attacks on migrants and refugees have occurred
countrywide over the past few years. Recent protests aside, in June
Somali business owners in Gugulethu, Cape Town, received anonymous
letters demanding that they cease trade and leave the area.
In spite of years of sporadic attacks, in which vulnerable Somali
refugees have often been specific targets, when widespread violence
broke out across the country in May of last year, many political leaders
were nonetheless able to plead, with some plausibility, their shock and
surprise at the levels of anti-migrant sentiment and the actions
citizens were willing to take.
Then deputy foreign affairs minister Aziz Pahad described the
"unprecedented savage attacks" as a "totally unexpected phenomenon in
The deputy president at the time, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, expressed
disbelief at the fact that "normal South Africans are anti their African
brothers and sisters". However, a similar response is not acceptable
this year. More than a year after the 2008 xenophobic attacks had
largely been quieted, virtually no information has been made available
to the public by this government or the last, about follow-up activities
or new preventative measures.
The National Prosecuting Authority, in a statement released early this
year, indicated that about one in four of the 469 cases related to last
year's xenophobic attacks had resulted in convictions. However, many
cases have been withdrawn, often due to lack of evidence, particularly
where large numbers of local residents were involved in attacks.
The Consortium for Migrants and Refugees in South Africa also reported
last month that there had been no convictions for crimes of rape or
murder that took place during the attacks.
Further, taking cognisance of the possible difficulties around securing
prosecutions, even less has been said about other interventions, such as
localised conflict resolution, restitution or restorative justice
And critically, what plans have been put in place to prevent violence
and attacks on the scale that we saw in 2008? How many more attacks on
migrants and refugees need to happen before the government treats these
human rights abuses with the seriousness they deserve?
South Africa is signatory to a range of international instruments that
protect the rights of foreign nationals in the country. These include
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the
Rights of Refugees, and the OAU Convention Governing the Specific
Aspects of Refugees in Africa.
In addition, our constitution extends many basic rights to everyone in
South Africa, including the right to life, human dignity, and freedom
and security of person. These rights are not reserved for citizens only.
Further, South Africa - like other countries in the world - will not be
able to prevent migrants from coming to the country in future, as
international borders become more and more easily traversed by tourists,
students, job-seekers, entrepreneurs, World Cup fans, retirees, and of
course, those escaping persecution, conflict, natural disasters and
instability in their countries of origin.
Nor should South Africa seek to isolate itself from other countries, and
the cultural, intellectual and economic gains that migration brings.
The ANC has released an all-encompassing statement that condemns "all
criminal acts" of the recent weeks, including "violence against foreign
nations" alongside "destruction of state and private property and
looting of shops under the guise of service delivery protests".
Similarly, Zuma has promised swift action against protesters involved in
"violence, looting and destruction of property or attacks on foreign
nationals residing in our country" as an act of "further criminality".
Certainly, addressing the myriad complex issues and concerns provoking
the current protests is of crucial importance for South Africa, and
these must be addressed with urgency, but also with strong leadership,
effective involvement of citizens in planning sustainable solutions, and
However, addressing citizen concerns should not be at the expense of
simultaneous efforts to protect migrant rights. In South Africa, the
human rights of one individual do not outweigh those of any other.
As we have seen in the past year, treating xenophobia as simply a side
effect of other "criminality" is not an effective response. Rather,
there needs to be concerted work to educate citizens about the rights of
migrants and South Africa's protection mandates to counter prevailing
intolerance and discrimination and to prevent any further attacks before
# Kate Lefko-Everett is project leader of the South African
Reconciliation Barometer at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation
in Cape Town.
Sexwale beds down in Diepsloot sleepover
Hajra Omarjee 4 August 2009
HUMAN Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale stood in a pool of sewage
yesterday as he spoke to residents of the informal settlement of Diepsloot.
The community, which is just up the road from the plush Johannesburg
suburb of Fourways, took to the streets in a violent protest last month.
Unperturbed by the smell, Sexwale was there to launch a listening
campaign, as part of which he was to spend a night in several townships,
starting last night in Diepsloot.
The initiative comes three months into Sexwale’s term in office and two
years before the 2011 local government elections.
“We are standing on human waste. We are in Diepsloot. This is where we
start our journey. We are starting a meaningful conversation with the
people,” Sexwale said.
While there are more than 2000 informal settlements in SA, the Diepsloot
protest, which saw more than a dozen people arrested, got extensive
But Sexwale brushed aside criticism that his visit to the township would
encourage more uprisings in other communities, saying the government had
sent a clear message that violence would not be tolerated.
“What is at issue here is that people are living in inhuman conditions.
This is an honest attempt to hear the views. A genuine attempt to hear
the problems of the people,” Sexwale said.
The campaign had been endorsed by President Jacob Zuma , who saw the
move as an effort to bridge the gap between the top leaders of the
government and ordinary people.
“The president cannot jump every time there are problems. That is why we
are here,” Sexwale said.
While it was originally reported that residents in Diepsloot were up in
arms over poor service delivery, local municipal councillor Madlozi
Ndlazi yesterday described the uprising as a simple act of criminality.
“There is a burst pipe here. The municipality comes to mend it all the
time. We decided that we had to move this row of shacks in order to
replace the pipe.
“The problem is that some of the shacks we needed to move had been
turned into spaza shops. The owners spread the word that we were moving
the community to Brits, that’s what started this,” said Ndlazi.
His comment was supported by several residents Business Day spoke to in
However, residents also pointed a finger at Ndlazi for not destroying
the shacks when occupants w ere moved into low-cost houses nearby, and
accused him of renting them out. Ndlazi denied the allegation.
About 150000 people live in Diepsloot, and about a third of these live
in shacks. While basic services have been provided in most of the
township, those in the reception area live in squalor.
While the government has apparently moved people out of the reception
area and into low-cost housing several times, the shacks were not
destroyed and more people moved in.
Community worker Bella Sehloho, said yesterday Sexwale’s visit had
renewed the community’s hope.
“We now have hope that JZ (Zuma) will deliver on his promises. Before
they only came when they wanted us to vote. We have been living in
poverty. The people here do not want a lot. We want land, we will build
our own houses. We want jobs.”
Mayor on ‘special leave’ after violent service delivery protest
Alfred Moselakgomo (Sowetan) 4 August 2009
EMBATTLED mayor Clarah Ndlovu has been placed on “special leave”
following a month-long violent service delivery protest in Mashishing,
According to the ANC, Ndlovu has not resigned but is on leave with full
pay. Speaker Joseph Pooe will act as the executive mayor while Nduna
Mashego will act as speaker. And the DA is not happy.
“This is proof that the ANC has no empathy for its constituency as
monies sorely needed for the rendering of services are utilised to fill
the back pockets of their councillors,” DA’s Anthony Benadie said yesterday.
For more than a month, Mashishing residents near Lydenburg embarked on a
series of protests, demanding among other things Ndlovu’s resignation.
The local offices of the South African Social Security Agency and part
of the local police barracks were torched.
Telkom strike set to continue after talks fail on 12% pay rise
Amy Musgrave 4 August 2009
A STRIKE by members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) employed at
Telkom is set to continue today after the parties failed to reach an
agreement on wage increases at the Commission for Conciliation,
Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
The telecommunications giant did not want to divulge the effect of the
mass action yesterday, but the CWU said the strike had negatively
affected service delivery.
This included technical maintenance, installation of new lines and
applications for new services, general secretary Gallant Roberts said.
Hundreds of employees downed tools yesterday in protest against “poor”
The CWU wants the company to adjust employees’ salary scales and then
grant a 7,5% raise on the new scales backdated to April 1. This would
translate into at least a 12% pay rise. However, Telkom is offering 7,5%
on the current salary scales with promises of introducing new salary
bands on October 1.
“This means the discriminatory salary disparity will remain unchanged
and continue to disadvantage our members,” said Roberts.
The protest would continue today because no agreement had been reached yet.
Telkom would not comment on the details of the CCMA talks.
“Telkom is still involved in discussions with organised labour and these
talks continue today as well,” Telkom’s executive for employee
relations, Meshack Dlamini, said.
“The company has contingency measures in place to minimise the potential
effect of industrial action.”
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has come out in
support of the strike, which took place in Gauteng, KwaZulu- Natal, and
the Western Cape.
“Cosatu urges all its members to support all these activities by their
comrades in the CWU and in particular to join the national march on
August 11, which will take place if an agreement with Telkom has not
been reached by then,” said the federation’s spokesman, Patrick Craven.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has
threatened “radical measures” if Eskom does not agree to a 14% wage
increase. The parastatal is offering employees an 8% pay rise.
“The failure by Eskom to adhere to these demands will leave the workers
with no other option but to adopt radical measures that will have
far-reaching implications,” Numsa spokesman Castro Ngobese said
yesterday. “This might include pulling out the plug and unleashing a
blackout if need be; but we do not want to get to that point although
Eskom is pushing us to that direction. This call should not be
misconstrued as anti-Zuma administration or ANC. This is the only
mobilisation tool and power which workers can use to advance their
demands of decent work and better conditions of employment.”
The union called on the government and Public Enterprises Minister
Barbara Hogan in particular to intervene on behalf of workers who were
in support of the African National Congress’s commitment to create
31 -July - 4 August
Moutse residents vow to make municipality ungovernable
SABC News 3 August 2009
Scores of Moutse residents have vowed to protest and make the Elias
Motsoaledi municipality and surrounding areas ungovernable until they
are reincorporated back into Mpumalanga. They are also calling for the
resignation of certain members of Parliament. Community leaders have
demanded a meeting with the Secretary General of the African National
Congress (ANC) Gwede Mantashe regarding the border issue.
Norman Mathebe of the Moutse Demarcation Forum says the community feels
strongly that they have been betrayed by their representatives, and are
in the wrong province -- Limpopo. He says all public representatives
voted into provincial, national government and municipalities, at both
district and local level, will have to resign their seats if they agree
with the majority.
Moutse residents threatened to join the fray last week as the country
was rocked by massive service delivery protests. The angry community is
also demanding the axing of the Mayor. The community alleges that
councillors are also working as contracted service providers in local
projects of their municipality. The Secretary of the South African
Communist Party's Stompo branch in Moutse, Patrick Aphane, confirmed to
SABC News that they have recalled their ward councillor. The community
is also complaining about lack of service delivery and the alleged
mismanagement of public funds.
Trollip to visit protest sites
Sapa 3 August 2009
The Democratic Alliance's parliamentary leader Athol Trollip will embark
on a tour of the country on Tuesday to talk to protesting communities
about their problems so that he can raise these in the legislature.
Trollip said the trip was prompted by the sometimes violent recent
service delivery protests, since these made plain that people were
frustrated because their concerns were not being addressed. "Citizens
are tired of struggles they must face on a daily basis due to them not
having access to basic services such water and electricity or proper
housing and sanitation facilities."
He said their plight was aggravated by the constant fear that came with
living in areas with high crime rates.
"The DA is strongly concerned over the dire circumstances the majority
of South Africans live under and we believe that it is imperative that
these citizens are given a means, other than through service delivery
protests, to be able to voice their discontent and draw attention to the
hardships they face on a daily basis.
'Parliament has increasingly failed to serve as the voice of the people'
"Parliament has increasingly failed to serve as the voice of the people,
there has been a severe lack of debate on issue of public importance and
committees have also neglected their oversight role by failing to
undertake visits to communities."
The DA had recently complained about the lack of constructive debate in
Parliament and said the ruling party failed to take questions from the
"We will listen to the problems of citizens first hand and we will then
use the parliamentary mechanisms available to all of our MPs - including
parliamentary questions, motions, calling for debates and membership in
parliamentary committees - to ensure that these problems receive
attention and solutions to these problems are sought at a national
level," Trollip said.
He said he would be accompanied by several DA MPs.
His assistant Trace Venter said his first stop would be townships
outside Cape Town, and from there he would visit trouble spots in all
nine provinces over the next three months. - Sapa
Students protest closes Cape university
Sapa 3 August 2009
Classes at the Cape Peninsula University were suspended on Monday
following protest action by students.
SABC news reported the central student representative council’s deputy
president Tinyiko Masondo said students were unhappy with proposed fee
increases for next year.
He said thousands of students had gathered outside the gates of the
Belville campus to await feedback.
Masondo said students on all campuses would continue boycotting classes
on Tuesday if the fees were raised.
Students trash campus
Nikita Sylvester 3 August 2009
Hundreds of protesting students invaded the administration building on
the city campus of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT)
this morning, smashing windows and breaking turnstiles to gain access.
Inside, the students tipped over dustbins and ripped notices from the
walls. At the time of going to press, nearly 500 students were inside
the building, singing and brandishing tree branches. There were also
reports that they had trashed the canteen
Earlier, they invaded classes, forcing fellow students and lecturers to
abandon their studies. One described the protesters as "very aggressive".
It is believed that the protests are related to the increase in tuition
fees for 2010.
Technikon administrators were not available for comment.
The Cape Argus could not see any security guards at the campus.
One student, Melissa Nomda, said friends had warned her that some
protesters were armed with knives.
At CPUT's Bellville campus, protesters prevented students from accessing
the main administration building to collect their new books for the
About 300 protesters had gathered at the building, but a student said
classes had also been disrupted earlier.
Jimmy Masondo, deputy chairman of the Student Representative Council,
confirmed that the protesters had gathered at the Bell-ville campus.
Three months ago, riot police and students clashed violently at the
Bellville campus after protests first flared up at the city campus.
At both campuses, riot police opened fire on students with rubber
bullets and used stun grenades when the protests over service delivery,
facilities and fees turned violent.
On May 6, 1 000 students gathered outside the Bellville main
administration building campus demanding answers from CPUT
vice-chancellor Vuyisa Mazwi-Tanga about what they described as high
fees and poorly maintained facilities.
Students unhappy with her response spilled into Modderdam Road and were
driven back by pol-ice cars. Later that afternoon, students pelted
police with rocks and the police responded with rubber bullets and stun
At the time, registrar Alwyn van Gensen said the anger had been
triggered by protests by contract workers employed by a cleaning
service. Students had joined the protests, adding their own grievances.
In June, contract cleaners again went on strike, prompting the
university to obtain an interim interdict against trade union Nehawu and
CPUT was formed by the merger of the Cape and Peninsula technikons. -
Additional reporting by Ilse Fredericks
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Argus on
August 03, 2009
One-man protest in Joburg
Sapa 3 August 2009
A prisoners' rights activist will stage a one-man protest at the ANC
headquarters in Johannesburg on Monday, while President Jacob Zuma and
Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai meet.
"The aim is to submit a memorandum of grievances to... Tsvangirai about
the gross human rights violations in Zimbabwean jails," SA Prisoners
Organisation for Human Rights president, Golden Miles Bhudu, said in a
During his one-man protest, Bhudu will also submit an open letter to
Zuma about his "deafening silence" regarding amnesty, clemency and
sentence reduction for a number of prisoners, including political prisoners.
African National Congress spokesperson Jessie Duarte said the meeting at
Luthuli House would be closed, and she could not say what it would be about.
31 July -2 August
Municipal workers call off strike
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA Jul 31 2009 16:16
The five-day strike by South Africa's municipal workers is over, the
South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) and the Independent
Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) said on Friday.
"It's over ... we signed an agreement this [Friday] afternoon," Samwu
general secretary Mthandeki Nhlapo said.
"Our workers will return to their posts on Monday," he said.
The union agreed to a revised offer from the South African Local
Government Association (Salga) of a 13% wage hike, he said.
Samwu's members had initially demanded a 15% increase.
Imatu's regional manager, Shadow Shongwe, said his union had also signed
the wage agreement.
"The wage dispute has finally been resolved and the agreement that is
now in place has been endorsed by the unions."
He said Imatu members would return to work on Monday at about 11 am.
"By then we would have reached every corner of Imatu to convey the terms
of the settlement," Shongwe said.
The strike left rubbish piled up on streets and licensing offices closed.
Pressure on the government has also come from poor township residents,
who have demonstrated to back their demands for better living conditions
for millions of black South Africans who still lack adequate housing,
electricity and water 15 years after the end of apartheid.
A double-digit pay settlement could put added strain on the economy,
which fell into South Africa's first recession since 1992 because of
reduced local and global demand.
Analysts said above-inflation increases, such as the one won by Samwu
and Imatu, could compound the impact of a 31,3% increase in electricity
prices granted to Eskom last month and push inflation higher.
"We believe such wage growth and the Eskom tariff increases will keep
core inflation high over the next year," said Peter Attard Montalto,
emerging markets economist at Nomura International.
The wage increase won by the municipal workers is a boost for the
unions, which helped the African National Congress win the general
election in April and have been using their power to try to push
government policy in a more populist direction.
Investors, on the other hand, are keen for the government to stick to
what they see as the sound economic policies that have helped shield
South Africa from the worst of the global downturn.
The government welcomed the deal ending the labour action.
"As national government we are very happy and excited that finally
agreement has been reached between the parties," Cooperative Governance
Minister Sicelo Shiceka said.
Samwu president Petros Mashishi said the union had no option but to
strike. "We were forced into a situation of going to strike because the
demands that we put on the table could not be met by employers".
President Jacob Zuma has warned against unlawful action from strikers
"There is something wrong in our society if there are people ... who
think that it is acceptable in a democracy to stone cars, loot shops and
burn people's houses," Zuma said in a weekly newsletter on Friday.
"We should nevertheless see these events as a challenge to work harder
and more effectively to respond to the needs of our people."
The ANC's labour union allies say the poor have borne the brunt of the
recession, and note official data shows unemployment has risen to more
than four million. -- Sapa, Reuters
Samwu compromises on strike-ending deal
Rahima Essop (Eyewitness News)
Municipal workers union Samwu said on Friday while the settlement
agreement with the SA Local Government Association is not what it wanted
- it was a compromise agreement.
A final settlement was signed in Kempton Park ending the four day strike.
The strike saw thousands of workers down tool with violent protests and
streets being trashed.
The wage deal is a multi-year settlement meaning workers will get a 13
percent increase in the first year and over the next two years they will
get increases which amount to CPI of 1.5 and two percent.
COUNTRY COUNTING THE COST OF STRIKE
The strike is believed to have cost the country millions of rand.
Efficient Group Chief Economist Dawie Roodt said this may have an impact
on foreign investors.
“It’s fairly easy to catch up on production. For instance you don’t
clean up rubbish removal for one week you can easily work double next
week and catch up. The real impact on the South African economy is the
message we’re sending to the rest of the world that we’re pretty a
militant bunch in South Africa.”
Heavy police presence at Durban strike
30 July 2009, 10:23
There was a heavy police presence at the municipal workers strike in
Durban on Thursday.
Large numbers of metro police were seen carrying guns and protective gear.
The municipal workers were carrying placards reading: "We demand 15
percent" and "Sutcliffe must go", in a reference to eThekwini
municipality manager Mike Sutcliffe .
Workers sang and danced, carrying sticks and knobkierries, as the
municipal workers strike entered its fourth day.
Members of the SA Municipal Workers Union and Independent Municipal and
Allied Trade Union were striking for better wages. - Sapa
Eighties comparison a cop-out
Bilkis Omar 1 August 2009
The hard approach of the police to recent service delivery protests has
been interpreted by some as comparable to the methods of riot police
during the 1980s and early 1990s.
But closer inspection suggests that this is unwarranted. A multitude of
factors have caused pressure within the South African Police Service
(SAPS) that could have led to police adopting a harder stance.
First, only specialist public order police (Pop) members have the
requisite level of training and expertise to deal with marches and
protests. Ordinary members of police stations and the metro police
generally do not have this training and should be acting only as back-up
to the Pop.
Indications are that in some of the recent protest marches, metro police
and station members with only crowd-management training have been guilty
of taking command of situations and ultimately of using force too hastily.
Second, formal crowd-management training designed for station members
and metro police officers who initially respond to incidents has been
inconsistent and incomplete. Despite the shortfalls in training, these
"first responders" are still required to police violent protests.
Indications are that in recent protest actions station members have been
acting in the absence of Pop members and neglecting standard
Third, in-service training, a routine, continual training requirement
for members trained in crowd management, has not been undertaken
systematically by station members. This raises doubt about their ability
to deal with situations they now face.
These three deficiencies can be attributed largely to the police
organisational restructuring process in 2006 in which a number of Pop
units were closed down and half of the human resource capacity was
decentralised to station level.
The result of all these factors has been a rapid recourse to aggressive
police action often preceded by minimal and sometimes scant negotiations
with the protesters. This is ultimately in violation of crowd-management
This said, public order policing has progressed remarkably in the past
15 years. A softer approach has been adopted, by way of training by the
Belgian police in 1996 and the enactment of the Regulations of
Gatherings Act of 1993. This combination was intended to ensure that
marches and events remain consistent with the Bill of Rights.
The Act clearly prescribes procedures police have to follow when taking
action against disorderly protesters. These procedures are designed to
limit the use of force -- while bearing in mind the particulars of each
situation. Factors taken into account include threat levels and
aggravating factors such as the presence of weapons and criminal elements.
The Act also requires the police to take the following steps:
* Maintain ongoing negotiations with the protesters;
* Continue with threat-level assessments;
* Ask the crowd to disperse;
* Order the crowd to disperse within a specified time in a loud voice
and in two languages;
* If within the specified time the crowd has not dispersed, a Pop member
may order his members to disperse the participants and may for that
purpose order the use of force; and
* The degree of force must not be greater than is necessary and must be
in proportion to the circumstances of the case.
In crowd-management situations "force" denotes the use of minimum force,
which includes the use of shields, rubber batons, stun grenades and
water cannons. As a last resort, shotguns with rubber bullets may be
used. Maximum force -- the use of live ammunition -- may be used only
when there is a threat to life, including that of the police.
The use of shotguns and rubber bullets has been a topic of much
controversy in the past. Despite rubber bullets being reduced in size,
the ricochet action caused severe injury. The SAPS's standing orders
used to require that police fire rubber bullets at a 45angle into the
ground in front of the protesters. Although this was intended to
minimise the damage caused by the bullets, they have caused severe
injury to protesters.
A less damaging alternative has now been provided by the SAPS. When
rubber rounds are used, these must be fired directly at the legs of
protesters, but at a distance of 25m to 40m for reduced-size rounds, and
a distance of 40m to 80m for normal rubber rounds. This alternative may
be used only by members trained in the use of rubber rounds.
Although police action in the past few weeks is of concern, it cannot
and should not be measured against the heavy-handedness of the riot
police during apartheid. But training, staffing and resource levels must
be addressed to minimise the demand on the services of Pop members.
If this situation is not rapidly rectified the ability of the police to
deal with unruly behaviour (including that linked to the 2010 Fifa World
Cup) will be placed in serious doubt.
Bilkis Omar is a researcher in the crime, justice and politics programme
at the Institute for Security Studies
Mayco member stoned by protesters
31 July 2009, 06:55
A member of the city's mayoral committee had to beat a hasty retreat
under police guard from angry protesters in Masiphumelele near Kommetjie
when rocks rained down on the car in which she was travelling after a
failed attempt at addressing housing concerns.
Felicity Purchase, mayco member for economic development and tourism,
later said the crowd was angry with her because she would not accede to
their demands for land in the area to build their shacks.
The protesters also alleged she had been disrespectful.
The mayco member visited the area after repeated confrontations between
police and angry residents that started before dawn yesterday morning.
While residents barricaded roads and hurled missiles, police used rubber
bullets, stun and smoke grenades.
Purchase said backyard tenants who had been evicted by land owners in
Masiphumelele were offered the chance to move to temporary relocation
areas in Delft, but many had refused.
"The natural way for the city to expand is north and east - there's
simply no space in Masiphumelele. All vacant pockets of land have been
earmarked for development," said Purchase.
More than 100 residents of the area, all formerly backyard tenants,
erected barricades in Pokela Road - the main entrance to Masiphumelele -
from just before 5am yesterday, determined to be heard.
At issue for most of the protesters are the continued evictions of
backyarders brought about by the "People's Housing Project" in the area.
Provincial government funds were released several months ago to provide
building subsidies for title deed holders.
The resultant housing boom meant that many tenants were asked to vacate
the properties which had been rented out, as deed holders planned to
build their homes.
On Thursday, a fridge, tree cuttings and the contents of overturned
wheelie bins littered the streets of Masiphumelele while police made an
attempt at dispersing a steady crowd of mostly youngsters, that was
spreading throughout the area.
One of the protesters, Buntu Twasile, 23, said that they were demanding
land in the area to build their homes.
"People have been protesting the developments here in Masiphumelele for
weeks and are justifiably angry at government officials for not
listening to their demands.
"We won't stop protesting until our demands are met. People like
(provincial premier) Helen Zille have not been listening to our cries,
that's why we've been forced on to the streets," Buntu said.
As police armed with shotguns and firing rubber bullets moved through
the area, several protesters were arrested and taken to awaiting vans
parked in Kommetjie Main Road, where there was a heavy security
presence. Another protester, Wendy Masiza, alleged her cousin had been
arrested, even though he had not been protesting.
Later in the afternoon, a crowd gathered in front of Ukhanyo Primary
School for a meeting with Purchase, but it ended in chaos when the
protesters were left dissatisfied by her answers about available land
for housing in the area.
Nontembiso Madikane, a community activist, said Purchase was responsible
for the situation after police fired rubber bullets and several stun and
smoke grenades at the crowd in response to rocks aimed at her car. "She
shouldn't have addressed people like this (seated in a car over a PA
system); she should've called the leaders to a meeting instead,"
Ocean View police spokesperson Nkosikho Mzuku said 12 people arrested
are to be charged with public violence and would appear in the Simon's
Town Magistrate's Court "soon".
Strikers leave chaos in their wake
By Aziz Hartley, Sibusiso Ngalwa, Siyabonga Mkhwanazi and Sapa
The Cape Times 30 July 2009
A municipal workers' march through Cape Town on Wednesday started
peacefully, but ended with a trail of destruction left by some marchers
who smashed advertising boards and rubbish bins and demolished display
stands at Cape Town Station.
About 2 000 strikers took part in the march arranged by the South
African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) and the Independent Municipal
and Allied Workers' Union (Imatu). The protest followed those at
municipal depots across the province on Tuesday which were reportedly
marked by intimidation.
In Pretoria on Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma urged the police to
arrest striking municipal employees if they destroyed public property.
Addressing a press conference, Zuma said the law-breakers should be
dealt with as their actions infringed on the rights of others. "Violence
and trashing is not allowed," said Zuma.
Wednesday's turnout in Cape Town was lower than Monday's when about 3
000 workers marched through Bellville and delivered a memorandum to the
South African Local Government Association (Salga). Samwu has called for
a 15 percent wage increase and minimum pay of R4 020. Imatu chairman Mzi
Sebezo said on Wednesday his union had demanded the same.
Salga offered 11.5 percent backdated to July 1, an additional 1.5
percent in January 2010, inflation plus 1.5 percent in 2010/11 and
inflation plus 2 percent in 2011/12. The association's offer - which was
for three years - also included R4 000 minimum wage. Samwu has rejected
a three-year agreement.
Some protesters on Wednesday smashed street signage, broke litter bins
and threw rubbish into the streets as they dispersed.
* This article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Times on
July 30, 2009
Backyarders and politics' behind violence
The Cape Argus 1 August 2009
The spark for the violent protests which rocked Masiphumelele this week
was "backyarders" - families living in backyards - facing eviction after
plot owners in the area received subsidies to build brick houses and
moved to evict their tenants.
This is the view of Dr Lutz van Dijk, board member of the Amakhaya ngoku
Housing Association, which is building flats in the area.
Phumzile Maqala, of the Masiphumelele branch of the ANC, said the
protests were sparked by the frustration felt by up to 4 000 backyarders.
However, Felicity Purchase, the mayco member for economic development
and tourism, said the protests were politically motivated and part of
ongoing destabilisation of the Western Cape by the ANC.
Purchase said that while land was a real problem, the violence had been
Purchase, who was forced to leave the area after her car was pelted with
rocks by protesters on Thursday, said that several individuals were
using legitimate issues as a smokescreen for their political agenda.
On Friday a meeting was held with pastors and other stakeholders at the
King of Kings Baptist Church in Sun Valley to try to thrash out a
solution to the conflict which resulted in 12 arrests for public
violence. Allegations of children being used as human shields by protesters.
Patrick Diba, from the Masiphumelele Baptist Church, said the idea was
to mediate between the groups and to create a platform to find a solution.
He expressed disappointment at seeing police pick up stones to throw at
protesters, which were not "proper policing methods" and had only served
to inflame the crowd.
Mzuvukile Nikelo, of the Life Changers Church, said he had been
surprised at the protest. He said it appeared to be orchestrated by
"If you don't buy in they threaten to burn down your house," he said.
There are several housing schemes in the area which are using a
combination of government subsidies and private donor money to build
proper houses. But it means that those living in backyards need to be
Maqala said some of them were told to move to Delft. "But how can you
move a domestic worker earning R800 a month in Sun Valley to Delft?"
He said several nature conservation sites had been identified for
However, Purchase and DA councillor Nicki Holderness pointed out that
most of the land was in private hands and was very expensive.
Holderness said that even if the land was made available, re-zoning and
other legal requirements could take two years. She said not all land was
suitable as some of it was in a wetland and underwater.
Mark Wiley, the chairman of the Western Cape's parliamentary portfolio
committee for community safety, said that in 20 years the community had
grown from 100 people to 25 000.
He said any government in the world would struggle to cope with a
population explosion like that.
Wiley added that resorting to violence would not help attract overseas
He said that a Joint Operations Centre had been set up in Ocean View
following threats to police living in Masiphumelele and members of
political parties other than the ANC.
Pastor John Thomas said he was concerned that this week's protests could
spill over into another xenophobic crisis because of the number of
foreigners renting backyards at higher rentals than locals.
"It's so easy for people to say that foreigners are taking our land
which could spill over into xenophobia."
Another meeting with all the roleplayers, including the protesters'
leaders, has been scheduled for Sunday.
It will focus on ways of preventing further violence, identifying land
for "backyarders" in the short term and a long-term land strategy.
* This article was originally published on page 4 of The Cape Argus on
August 01, 2009
Yes to protest, no to vandals
July 31, 2009 Edition 1
AS THEY set off from Botha Gardens for city hall yesterday, marshals
appealed to marching municipal workers not to trash Durban. Hats off to
them for doing so - orderly protest and strikes are hard-won rights in
this country, but vandalism and acts of destruction are not.
Sadly the hot-heads among the strikers did not listen, contaminating a
legitimate demonstration for a better deal. Not content to make their
point peacefully, almost as though they feared it was not sufficiently
compelling, they wrought havoc by tipping bins and strewing refuse in
It was done almost gleefully, inflicting disruption on others, flirting
with thuggery, spreading the misery. While tossing about muck is less
egregious than the arson, physical attacks and scale of intimidation we
have seen elsewhere recently, it is a version of assault - criminal and
Union organisers have clearly realised it is counterproductive, and have
been told so by the government. But their pleas for order have been
ignored by a percentage of strikers who persist in damaging their cause.
Some did their worst in central Durban on Wednesday, and marchers
scattered more health hazards and obstructions yesterday.
When confronted with this behaviour this week, residents of Underberg
opted to act rather than the usual hisses of disapproval and shaking of
heads. They picked up the garbage - only to have a repeat of the
vandalism the next day.
Compared with other towns and cities, Durban's stoppages seem so far to
have been less spiteful. This naturally wins a measure of sympathy with
their quest for a decent wage.
However, other union officials who dither over the morality and legality
of mayhem, murmuring about possible provocation, compound the injury to
society. It is they who fail their members, and South Africa, by
equivocating and failing to show clear leadership on the conduct of protest
South African workers erupt into renewed struggle
Eugene Puryear 30 July 2009
Hunger, deepening poverty spark popular anger
Recent events have shown just how explosive the South African political
scene is. Working people have again erupted in struggle; fighting for
basic rights such as social services and higher wages.
Municipal workers protest in Johannesburg, South Africa, 07-09
Since the African National Congress was swept back into power, the Jacob
Zuma-led government has been walking a tightrope. On the one hand, Zuma
has signaled to international capital that he will basically continue
the neoliberal policies that ANC governments have pursued since first
gaining power in 1996. On the other hand, the ANC made its most central
campaign promise the reduction of poverty. This basic contradiction lies
at the heart of recent political tumult.
The end of apartheid was a highly progressive development, yet it has
brought new contradictions to South Africa. Some Blacks have become
rich, but at the same time the gap in wealth distribution has broadened.
In fact, the majority of working people in South Africa face economic
conditions not that much better than those under apartheid. In May of
this year, unemployment stood at 23 percent. South African capitalism,
too, has suffered from the worldwide economic crisis, with South
Africa’s main industry, mineral extraction, hit by thousands of job losses.
The ANC is based on the cross-class coalition that defined it during the
liberation movement. The ANC pulls together elements of the South
African capitalist class and the working class, represented primarily by
the main trade union federation COSATU and the South African Communist
Party. This base is built from the ranks of the poor and working class.
Despite having grievances, these sectors supported the ANC in the April
In a nod to his left-wing coalition partners, Zuma made a few changes in
how the government was structured. The SACP had pressed for changes that
would promote development and lay the groundwork for a governing
approach that truly placed reduction of poverty and creation of jobs at
the center of its agenda.
But as the SACP has itself pointed out, the new changes could easily be
purely cosmetic, a sop to the left. Indeed, left-wing elements outside
the SACP have argued this is likely the case. The one area all forces on
the South African left, including COSATU, can agree on is the need to
intensify popular struggles.
Not content to take politicians at their word, workers have taken to the
frontlines several times since Zuma was elected. Notably, construction
workers on World Cup stadiums struck in early July and won a 12 percent
raise. In July, numerous townships erupted in protests demanding better
delivery of services. Basic social services, such as water and public
transportation, are inadequate or non-existent in the townships, which
are predominantly working class.
Additionally, protesters representing the unemployed movement seized
food without paying from two Durban supermarkets. They were protesting
the fact that a great number of South Africans continue to live in
hunger more than a decade after the end of apartheid.
On July 27, central Johannesburg was shut down as more than 150,000
workers, mostly municipal employees, went out on strike seeking a 15
percent wage increase. Workers are angry that Zuma has not lived up to
his promise to take action on jobs and poverty.
Similar tensions during the presidency of Thabo Mbeki brought the ANC
alliance the closest it has ever been to a left-right split. Since 2007,
members of the SACP have argued for running independent candidates to
avoid being stained by the right-wing policies of their coalition partners.
This underscores the fragile nature of Zuma’s coalition. His balancing
act between left and right can only work if he can make both sides
content. But faced with the current economic crisis, Zuma is leaning
toward more concessions to international capital than to the urgent
needs of workers.
Can the left-wing forces both inside and outside the ANC present a
common front that can strongly link these various struggles together and
move the body politic in South Africa to the left? The SACP and COSATU
face being hemmed in by their participation in the government. For those
left-wing forces outside the ANC, the challenge is to build bridges with
the left forces inside the ANC to present a common front of struggle.
The SACP, too, must overcome the challenge of past divisions.
For those closely watching the unfolding struggle from afar, the main
task is to stand firmly behind the workers of South Africa as they
struggle for the full promise of post-apartheid society. Victory to the
townships and the strikers!
SA's optimism will survive these protests
Gwede Mantashe (Sunday Independent) 2 August 2009
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has drawn a line under recent violent protests, not
least by appointing a tough police commissioner, Bheki Cele, with a
strong track record of fighting crime. He has also placed fighting
poverty and crime at the top of the political agenda and reaffirmed the
right of citizens to engage in peaceful protest in pursuance of their
It is because of this renewed sense of hope and empowerment that
expectations have risen countrywide since the elections in April, and it
is why the annual wage negotiations and heightened public awareness of
the need to make local government accountable to the people have
escalated into what appears to be a countrywide protest.
People are angry about the lack of service delivery over the past 15
years and they have a right to be. But we must not lose sight of the
progress that has been made with the provisions of clean water,
electricity and housing throughout the country. The ANC will not be
diverted from its programme to improve the lives of the poor even in
times of recession. And we will also be at the forefront of managing the
tensions between rising expectations, which are necessary, and the
constraints imposed on the government by the recession and lower growth
rates, which are beyond our control.
The ANC is clear that we have more work to do to improve the social
conditions of people in our country. Perceptions of corruption and
favouritism regarding tenders and employment frequently underlie the
We see recent protests as rooted in local issues, rather than reflecting
a national agenda. Some of the protests have occurred in areas where
basic services have been delivered. The ANC not only understands the
problem but also has put in place mechanisms to deal with grievances.
Legislation is being debated that would bar public servants from
involvement in other business ventures. We have met the residents in
most of the affected areas. In some areas, new water and sewerage
infrastructure can be implemented only by moving shack dwellers from
land allocated for the projects. This leads to anxiety and in the
instance of Diepsloot, a high-density community north of Johannesburg,
has led to protests.
We are determined to redress the developmental backlog we have
inherited. But it is a matter of planning and budgeting and cannot be
achieved overnight. Our reality in South Africa is that urbanisation and
the settlement of job-seekers in the urban centres is often not
respectful of well laid out plans.
The recent labour strikes are an annual occurrence in our democracy. The
ANC respects the rights of workers to declare disputes with employers
and to strike if there is a deadlock. But we condemn in the strongest
possible terms the violence that has accompanied some of the action. On
appointing the new police commissioner, President Zuma condemned the
violence and insisted that those guilty of looting, trashing of streets,
damaging property and attacks on individuals be arrested and charged.
The president has clearly indicated, in his first 100 days in office,
his resolve to maintain South Africa's vibrant economy. He has delivered
on his commitment to maintain the economic policies which have served
the country well over the past 15 years. At the same time he has
committed the government to a social agenda aimed at achieving social
cohesion alongside economic stability.
We are also mindful of the responsibility on our shoulders as a
socio-economic microcosm of the world: if countries like South Africa,
India and Brazil cannot develop a more equitable and sustainable system,
then humanity and as a whole is in trouble.
The government has made progress in transforming our economy and society
since the first democratic elections in 1994. South Africa is a
developing country with immense potential: we are a democracy and a
nation of people determined to succeed.
* Gwede Mantashe is the secretary-general of the ANC and chairman of the
SA Communist Party.