ANC leads protest action, calls DA-led coalition a corrupt government of thieves targeting the poor
Hundreds of Nelson Mandela Bay residents converged on the Wool Exchange building yesterday, demanding that mayor Athol Trollip receive their petition against electricity and water cuts.
Led by the ANC and its affiliates, more than 600 marchers including EFF, UDM and COPE supporters walked from the show grounds in Sidwell to Military Road.
Addressing the crowd at the City Hall, where they had initially planned to deliver the petition, march coordinator and ANC regional task team convener Vuyani Limba said the march was to inform the municipality that black people could not continue living with electricity and water cuts.
The petition accuses the DA-led coalition of corruption, failure to deal with the stagnant bus system, racism, and a purge of officials aligned to the ANC, specifically Kupido Baron.
Limba said Trollip had been given 14 days to respond or residents would engage in rolling mass action which might make the city ungovernable.
“The DA coalition has brought more misery and pain inside and outside the municipality, with more nepotism and corruption violating the basic principles of developmental local government, ” Limba said.
ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said the party did not agree with the coalition government as it did not consider the plight of poor people.
“This is a corrupt government, and we fight against corruption.
“The DA-led coalition is nothing but a government of thieves that is bringing back things we fought against.”
The march then moved to the Woolboard Exchange building where the agitated crowd tried to force their way through the locked gate.
The marchers – carrying placards that read “DA must Fall”, “Away with reconnection fee of R340, where will we get that money?” and “DA coalition or DA confusion” – sang struggle songs and shouted for Trollip.
The petition was instead received and signed by council speaker Jonathan Lawack and witnessed by city manager Johann Mettler. This angered marchers, who began hurling plastic bottles.
UDM representative Xolisile Klaas said they were at the march to demand their votes back as they were not consulted regarding the coalition.
“In his manifesto, Trollip spoke about jobs and change but I do not see any change. When I left the DA I knew that I would get hurt and then [deputy mayor Mongameli] Bobani comes and gives my vote to Trollip – that is an insult,” Klaas said.
Trollip said: “While the ANC continues with its destabilisation tactics, the DA-led coalition is going about fixing the mess the ANC left behind.
“It’s this mess and the ANC that voters rejected on August 3. We will not be deterred from bringing change to Nelson Mandela Bay.”
At yesterday’s council meeting, a request by EFF councillor Zilindile Vena to review a decision to block account holders from buying electricity until their arrears were paid was rejected.
This means customers whose accounts are in arrears for more than 45 days are disconnected. To be reconnected customers must pay R340 to the metro after they have made an arrangement to pay their accounts.
Vena said poor communities could not be subjected to “electricity cuts” when the city’s billing was faulty.
Budget and treasury political head Retief Odendaal said no assistance-tothe-poor customers were being cut off.
He said the national Treasury had warned that if the city did not recoup money owed by customers, it would be bankrupt by 2019.
After a vote by 61 councillors of the DA-led coalition and 57 by opposition parties, Vena’s request was not granted.