/ 15 November 2007

Matatiele residents march on Maritzburg

Matatiele residents were set to march through Pietermaritzburg on Thursday to the KwaZulu-Natal legislature in protest over their incorporation into the Eastern Cape.

Matatiele-Maluti Mass Action Organising Committee (MMA) chairperson Mandla Galo said that at least 45 minibus taxis had transported residents to Pietermaritzburg and that he was hoping that 6 000 people would turn out for the march.

Police spokesperson Inspector Joey Jeevan said that permission for the march had been obtained. The permission had been sought by the South African Communist Party (SACP).

On November 1, the KwaZulu-Natal legislature voted by a narrow margin in favour of the controversial Constitution 13th Amendment Bill.

Matatiele was incorporated into the Eastern Cape on February 28, hours before voting started in the local government election of 2006.

Similarly the Umzimkulu region was incorporated into KwaZulu-Natal from the Eastern Cape.

The African National Congress has been accused of ignoring the wishes of the residents of the district.

More than 3 000 residents attended public hearings at the town’s soccer stadium. More than 5 000 submissions against the district’s incorporation into the Eastern Cape were received while, according to the Democratic Alliance (DA), there were only 80 submissions in favour of incorporation.

”We have the support of everyone — all the opposition parties and even the alliance partners are pledging their solidarity,” said Galo.

He said the MMA had held a meeting in Matatiele on Wednesday which was attended by members of the SACP, the South African National Civic Organisation and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).

”The ANC members [of the provincial legislature] must think of what they are doing in Parliament. Are they there for the people [of KwaZulu-Natal] or are they there for their bosses?”

On August 18 last year, Constitutional Court Judge Sandile Ngcobo said in his judgement that the part of the Twelfth Amendment Act that altered the boundaries of KwaZulu Natal was invalid because it was not adopted in a manner consistent with the Constitution.

He said KwaZulu-Natal had not had sufficient public participation in the legislative process and suspended the order of invalidity for 18 months for Parliament to adopt a new amendment to the Constitution if it wished to.

Luzipho said: ”The answer [Matatiele’s incorporation] was predetermined long ago.”

DA Matatiele councillor Kenneth Biggs said: ”The public hearings were held, but the outcome was ignored.”

He said opposition to the incorporation would follow the legal route but that it was costing residents.

”Government uses taxpayers’ money to fight our democratic right with expensive advocates.”

He said residents had made a decision not ”to take the Khutsong route, although it does get them [Khutsong residents] into the limelight.”

Many Khutsong residents embarked on a series of protests over their incorporation into the North West, from Gauteng. – Sapa