The shut down of Malamulele in Limpopo as a result of protests in the area is unacceptable, President Jacob Zuma said on Sunday.
“Once you shut down, you infringe on other people’s rights such as children not being able to go to school,” Zuma said in an interview on SABC. “This is unacceptable. If we are pushed to a point we will have to take certain actions.”
The shut down of Malamulele has entered its fifth week as residents remained defiant in demanding their own municipality.
The Municipal Demarcation Board announced in January that Malamulele did not qualify for its own municipality. Protests erupted in the area last year before the May general elections, and re-ignited a month ago with residents demanding their own municipality.
Residents claim the Thulamela municipality has been channelling services to Tshivenda-speaking areas, rather than their own, which is dominated by Xitsonga speakers. Since January, four schools have been set alight.
‘Committed to study’
Police spokesperson Colonel Ronel Otto said earlier that only employees of the SA police service and the health care sector were working. All other businesses and institutions – including schools – had been shut down.
The Limpopo government has responded to the demands late last month, saying that they have “committed ourselves to study the report and act on the findings and will in due course propose a course of action”. They added, “We are committed to working together with the task team and the people of Malamulele on developmental issues.”
The Limpopo government said it would work with the Malamulele task team to restore normality in the area after residents reacted angrily to the news. “We also call upon workers in the area to return to work and ensure that there are uninterrupted economic activities,” said the provincial government.
“The provincial government reiterates its call to parents, learners and teachers in Malamulele to ensure that normal learning and teaching in the area resumes urgently.” However the shutdown has continued.