The South African Communist Party (SACP) in Tshwane has accused ANC leaders of instigating violence on the ground as factional groupings battle for the control of municipal resources intensifies.
Twenty buses were set alight and roads blocked after protests over ANC mayoral candidates in Mamelodi, Attridgeville and Hammanskraal turned ugly on Monday night. This came after the ANC announced that former public works minister Thoko Didiza as Tshwane’s mayoral candidate.
Who is Thoko Didiza?
In an interview with the Mail & Guardian SACP regional secretary in Tshwane Apson Makaung said the fight for resources by ANC factions were at the centre of the violence that erupted in the capital city.
“The ANC leadership in the media appears to be united, but they are the ones instigating the violence on the ground,” said Makaung.
The SACP cancelled its scheduled media briefing on Tuesday for fear of victimisation by some of the protesters.
In a statement, the SACP said the decision to place Didiza as Tshwane’s mayoral candidate laid a solid ground to unite all members of the ANC-led alliance in the region.
“We believe Thoko Didiza will work within a collective, she however brings with her a massive wealth of experience, maturity and capacity to unite all the motive forces of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) in the region.”
Makuang dismissed suggestions by some in the ANC that Didiza was not familiar with Tshwane, saying she has lived in the region for many years and that she was a principled leader with a good track record.
Some of the residents in Attridgeville who spoke to the Mail & Guardian on Tuesday demanded that the current Tshwane mayor and ANC chairperson Sputla Ramokgopa should be retained as mayor, saying he has done a good job in the past five years.
Makaung pointed out that, like Didiza, Ramokgopa wasn’t from Tshwane. “If you really look at it, even Sputla Ramokgopa is not from Tshwane but Limpopo, so we can’t say we don’t want Didiza because she’s not from Tshwane,” said Makaung.
In Mamelodi, residents said that the ANC should have chosen Ramokgopa’s deputy Mapiti Matsena as mayoral candidate as he was Tshwane’s choice. They insisted that Didiza should not be imposed on them.
Burned tyres and stones blocking roads were visible in both areas, with police monitoring the situation for any additional violence that might erupt.
According to Makaung, the only way to solve the factionalism and the violence in Tshwane was to put the city under administration and root out the corruption at the leadership level.
“For the past three years, we have said that the city is ridden with corruption but no one listened to us, we even marched to the Union Buildings,” said Makaung.
The ANC has labelled these violent protests as opportunistic and motivated by criminality. The ruling party’s regional spokesperson in Tshwane Teboho Joala said the party have deployed leaders in many parts to calm people down and accept the national executive committee’s decision to put Didiza as mayoral candidate.
In Pretoria’s central business district some shops remained closed and business owners were on high alert for any protesters in the area. The situation in Tshwane remained tense and the police could not rule out the possibility of more violence protests.
The SACP announced in a statement on Tuesday afternoon that it had launched a task team to investigate any involvement of the SACP and Young Communist League members in acts of criminality in Tshwane.
“We strongly condemn the acts of sheer criminality, violence and destruction. We believe that these acts are clearly planned, co-ordinated and financially sponsored,” the statement read.
The party said it dismissed with contempt any insinuations and ill-informed assertions that this renewed wave of violence constituted acts of spontaneity from the masses.
It said the task team had commenced with its work, with immediate effect, and would report on their findings to the Provincial Working Committee on Friday.
“With these renewed acts of violence, we hope prompt, swift, and decisive action will be taken against the instigators without fear or favour, nor, a factional consideration,” the SACP said, adding that, should any of their members be found to be involved in any criminal acts, they would be dealt with “decisively”. – Additional reporting by News24