The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Mangaung metropolitan municipality has asked the African National Congress (ANC) to stop using “cheap tactics”, following a protest by municipal workers on Wednesday, which led to the disruption of a council meeting that was aimed at electing a new mayor and a new chief whip of council.
As part of protest demonstrations, some parts of municipality infrastructure were damaged, while councillors were allegedly manhandled and stopped from entering the municipal chamber for the progression of the intended meeting. Workers have been on strike since the middle of March, over salary deductions and overtime non-payments.
According to DA Caucus member Johan Petrus the behaviour that was demonstrated was that of anarchy. He accused the ANC of paying people to protest to prevent the council meeting from taking place.
“This is really unacceptable as the ANC does not want to give away power, so they pay people to disrupt the meeting. This is not a workers’ protest but organised crime. This is a criminal act and it is not a democracy as we must be allowed to vote for our executive mayor and Chief Whip of council…,” said Petrus.
The metropolitan municipality governs Bloemfontein and surrounding towns in the Free State province. The municipality recently elected its speaker, the DA’s Maryke Davies, who some ANC councillors voted for.
Petrus also lamented the lack of action against the disruptive action by the South African Police Service.
“We are further disappointed that there was no show of the police during the course of the disruptions caused by the protest. Clearly the police will only listen to their lap masters, which is the ANC,” Petrus said.
The ANC has 51 seats in the municipality out of 101, and its mayoral candidate Gregory Nthatisi will go up against Pappie Mokoena from the Afrikan Alliance of Social Democrats.
ANC Mangaung chief whip Vumile Nikelo said in his party’s defence that the DA was naïve to assume the worst of the organisation, also accusing the party of cheap politicking.
“We are also not happy with the protests ourselves and we could never encourage the damage of municipal property, knowing well that it will hit us hard in the pocket,” he said.
He also accused the DA of “false entry to council” through Davies’ recent election.
“We are not like the DA who was voted in through the back door where the municipal speaker is concerned,” said Nikelo.
He said that due internal processes were being taken to deal with councillors who “betrayed” the ANC.