Khutsong: ‘Wheels in motion’ ahead of decision

Parliament will have an attentive audience hundreds of kilometres from Cape Town on Wednesday when residents of Merafong municipality gather at a local stadium to hear the result of their demand to remain part of Gauteng province.

At the township outside Carletonville, residents will stage a Tuesday-night vigil before hearing on Wednesday whether their municipality will be incorporated into North West province — to be decided under the 12th amendment Bill to redraw provincial boundaries in order to eliminate cross-border municipalities.

If it is, they will take their protest to stay in Gauteng to the Constitutional Court.

In the past two months, their call has seen the targeting of councillors’ homes, an exchange of stones and rubber bullets with police, a hearing before provincial legislatures and a number of memorandums.

Burning tyres and rock-strewn streets have also been a feature of Khutsong since protests began early last month.

Memorandum

On Monday, a protest march reached its peak when local magistrate Howard Raath received a memorandum calling for the proposal that Merafong be fully incorporated into North West to be withdrawn. Part of the cross-border municipality is already in that province.

South African Communist Party West Rand district chairperson Moreotsenya Diteko said the wheels are already in motion to take the matter to the Constitutional Court and that a fund is being set up to raise money.

He said the National Council of Provinces will be discussing the matter on Tuesday while the National Assembly will attend to it the following day.

”We shall be sitting here [in Khutsong Stadium], waiting for news of Parliament’s decision whether it will withdraw it or not.”

Monday’s memorandum said a public hearing by local government portfolio committees from both provinces clearly showed that Merafong residents were in favour of staying in Gauteng.

The provinces’ decision to incorporate Merafong into North West was an about-turn, read the memorandum.

”They [the government] cannot explain up to today what it is that makes them want us to go to North West,” Diteko said. ”We have had enough arrogance from the apartheid government and we do not expect that to happen in the Parliament of the people.”

‘Kill the mayor’

The crowd chanted ”Kill the mayor” along with insults aimed at the police in the kilometre between Khutsong and the police station, now a well-established route for protests.

Protesters have claimed that mayor Des van Rooyen stands to gain from the municipality being incorporated into North West.

Adding to their expression were hand-written posters. One carrying the words ”A prayer to the Lord 4 [for] war” hung on a fence at Khutsong Stadium at the beginning of Monday’s march. The prayer read: ”Our Father who art in heaven, bless us as we go to war against the gov[ernment], give us strength to stay in Gauteng.”

Referring to politicians ranging from the city fathers to parliamentarians, it went on: ”Don’t 4give Des, Bobo, Mtini and [the] rest of Parliament’s MPs 4 being moffies”.

Another poster called on government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe to shave his beard ”b4 talking shit”.

Earlier this month, Netshitenzhe said people will not be adversely affected if the areas they live in are moved to other provinces as part of the municipal demarcation process.

Services and transport

The community believes it will receive better services from the wealthier Gauteng province, which they claim to have built through their economic contributions.

The public hearings also heard frequent mention that transport costs to Gauteng’s centres are significantly lower than they are to North West’s centres that are further away.

Gauteng SACP secretary Vishwas Satgar has called on the Merafong community to ”carefully examine” whether it wants to participate in the 2006 March elections.

Seventeen municipalities will be affected by the rezoning Bill. Of these, the most contentious are Merafong; Matatiele (from KwaZulu-Natal to the Eastern Cape); Bushbuckridge (from Mpumalanga to Limpopo); and Khalagadi (from North West to the Northern Cape).

Violent protests similar to those in Khutsong have also taken place in other areas, including Matatiele. — Sapa

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Duncan Guy
I write jokes, play hockey, raise my son & cast tv shows. Boston guy surviving Los Angeles. I love comedy, hockey, politics, UFC & all the guac. Duncan Guy has over 1990 followers on Twitter.

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