ANC prepared to resolve Vuwani stalemate - Mantashe
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe says the ANC has an appetite to resolve the demarcation debacles of the troubled Vuwani communities in Limpopo, just like it is doing in the Matatiele Municipality – incorporating the latter back into KwaZulu-Natal from the Eastern Cape.
This week, the ANC announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the African Independent Congress for the incorporation of Matatiele back into KwaZulu-Natal.
The ANC has been accused of being more prepared to settle the Matatiele demarcation problem because the matter is aligned to the future of the Ekurhuleni mayor – and being less dedicated to finding solutions for Vuwani.
Mantashe condemned acts of violence – including the torching of more than 30 schools in Vuwani – after some community members, led by the pro-Makhado demarcation task team, distanced themselves from the new Malamulele municipality, known as Lim345, in the Vhembe district.
The task team want Vuwani areas to be returned to Makhado and Thulamela municipalities.
Mantashe said: “They want to meet us, but they burn schools and damage public property. Our doors have always been open. All they must do is to come to Luthuli House and meet us. But it cannot be correct when they resort to violence. The people in Matatiele did not burn schools to address their issues. Peaceful talks are not difficult, therefore they must come.”
He said this after the proMakhado task team refused to meet with the ANC provincial leadership in Limpopo last Thursday. Premier Stan Mathabatha led a delegation to discuss the situation with residents in the Vuwani community hall. It comprised Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and an interministerial task team, led by CoCooperative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen. However, residents snubbed the meeting.
“We are keen to meet them anytime and will prioritise them,” said Mantashe.
“Nothing cannot be resolved, but they must stop burning schools and allow children to go to school. They must refrain from damaging public property.”
Local Chief Mbangiseni Masia, of Masia village in one of the affected areas, confirmed that a meeting would take place on Monday at Luthuli House in Johannesburg. President Jacob Zuma would meet with Venda monarch King Mphephu Ramabulana and a delegation of local traditional leaders Arnold Mulaudzi, deputy chairperson of the pro-Makhado task team, reiterated their call that residents wanted Mathabatha and the entire provincial Cabinet to step down. “We have been lied to for too long. You cannot even celebrate 23 years of democracy because you are being marginalised by your own black government.” He expressed his anger after last Thursday’s visit by Mbalula and Van Rooyen. “Their presence did not make any difference to us. We do not want to meet them because they are full of themselves and empty promises have been the order of the day. We signed a memorandum of understanding with government, including its task team, but still they didn’t keep their promise to stop this process of Lim345,” Mulaudzi said. “We no longer want to engage with anybody but President Zuma because we have noted that most of these politicians are pursuing their own selfish interests.”
Van Rooyen said the decision by the demarcation board was final.
Mulaudzi insisted that before last year’s local elections, Mathabatha had promised that his administration would reverse the demarcation decision. The premier has denied this allegation several times. Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe confirmed that a case of culpable homicide had been opened after two people died when the car they were travelling in crashed into a steel pipe used by Vuwani protesters to barricade a road.
Provincial government spokesperson Phuti Seloba said: “The Municipal Demarcation Board has been on record saying that the Vuwani demarcation issue is done and dusted.
“The provincial government cannot be expected to undermine the board’s decision, including the Limpopo High Court and Constitutional High Court rulings.”
MEC for Education Ishmael Kgetjepe said the Limpopo provincial government would spend more than R450 million to repair the more than 30 schools that had been torched and vandalised in Vuwani since the shutdown last year.