'I now understand why Mugabe banned NGOs,' says Kenny Kunene

Kunene says if NGOs want to govern they must contest elections.

Johannesburg transport MMC Kenny Kunene. File photo.
Johannesburg transport MMC Kenny Kunene. File photo.
Image: Veli Nhlapo/Sowetan

Despite coming under attack for conducting “illegal” raids in Johannesburg buildings during his two-day stint as acting mayor, Patriotic Alliance secretary Kenny Kunene says he would do it again because he has a mandate from his voters.

Kunene told TimesLIVE the reaction of some NGOs to his raids made him understand why the late Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe banned some civil society organisations in his country.

Kunene waged a war on hijacked buildings in the Joburg CBD when he stood in for mayor Kabelo Gwamanda who was out of the city. Despite several NGOs and humans rights organisations condemning the “unlawful raids” Kunene has vowed to continue with them as he attempts to “clean up the city”. 

“We are presenting it officially to the mayoral committee, it needs to be a priority of the government of local unity. We can’t complain about revenue loss yet we have over 1,700 buildings that have been taken over by criminal syndicates who collect money from our people,” said Kunene. 

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute [SERI] lambasted Kunene for his actions, saying it was appalled at the approach targeted at poor people living in the inner city. 

“They conducted searches, threatened to evict residents and were recorded demolishing one building in Windsor East all without an authorising court order,” said the institute. 

The institute said it was not the first time these residents had endured victimisation under different mayoral regimes, citing a previous lawsuit against former mayor Herman Mashaba to seek recourse for the same actions. 

The court held that these raids “were conducted for an ulterior purpose, which is an abuse of power indicating wanton and calculated disregard of the law by the city and a predacious, mechanical scheme to terrorise and forcibly evict suspected unlawful occupiers, under the guise of restoring public order”. 

However, Kunene could not be deterred as he took jab at what he called “NGOs masquerading as political parties”. 

“If they want to govern they must go and contest elections like we did. NGOs must not get involved in the work of government. It is none of their business.  

“We have a crisis of buildings being hijacked in this country, our townships and suburbs are infested with illegal foreigners and drug dealers who are not South African.  

“When we fulfil our mandate and act as the representative of our constituency who has been voted into government, they want to question us,” said Kunene. 

The transport MMC vowed he would no allow NGOs to “misuse” the democracy and laws of this country.  

“I understand why Robert Mugabe banned all NGOs in Zimbabwe, and only allowed NGOs led by Zimbabweans that seek to help Zimbabweans to exist,” said an angry Kunene. 

Besides the crimes committed in the buildings, drug dealing and stolen copper discovered, the transport MMC said the city loses hundreds of millions in revenue collection. 

 “They connect electricity and water illegally from adjacent buildings — so those who are paying are being charged more, so they are costing law abiding citizens,” he said. 

Kunene said the city’s emergency management services [EMS] do not need any documentation before assessing buildings owned by the city, adding the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) was established to enforce bylaws and did not need a letter to execute their duty. 

“We went with public safety and EMS to assess the state of the buildings and the health compliance where our people stay based on the complaints we received from those residents. 

“I am a duly elected councillor and I have a constituency to protect. We are not going to wait for documents before we respond to calls from our people to come and assist them.” 



Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.