Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga has rejected Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) claims that she "sabotaged" the party's shutdown by instructing bus companies to cancel their services and not transport supporters attending the protest on Monday.
Speaking to News24 on Friday, Chikunga's spokesperson Lwaphesheya Khoza said the minister had not engaged with service providers, but had interacted with buses and public transport associations.
"The only interactions we have are with bussing associations and public transport associations, because those associations then give feedback and report directly to our various branches. So, the minister did not have engagements with any bus company," she said.
Khoza added that the South African Bus Operators Association, the SA National Taxi Council, and Road Freight Association (RFA) were approached by Chikunga in a brief meet-and-greet.
The interactions were to assure public transport entities that they were protected and could safely provide services on the day of the protest.
Khoza added that those contracted by the state "were implored" to continue working because Monday was a normal day.
"Those who wish to engage in the protest action were more than willing to engage in the protest action," she said.
She said that the RFA had distanced itself from the protest, but was aware of employees who supported the EFF. It had "encouraged" them to participate outside the "perimeters of work" by not utilising work vehicles and to not "compromise the flow of traffic".
At a media briefing on Thursday, EFF leader Julius Malema said the party would lodge a complaint against Chikunga at the Public Protector's office, as her actions had constituted a violation of power to "serve a personal and partisan agenda".
"The EFF condemns the illegal instructions which came from the fronting Minister of Transport [Sindisiwe] Lydia Chikunga, who threatened bus companies with [the] termination of contracts if they provide transport for the national shutdown," Malema said.
Addressing supporters in Tshwane on the day of the shutdown, Malema claimed that the poor turnout was because of bus companies cancelling their services on the instructions of the minister.
He said the EFF had ordered 280 buses from a company subsidised by the government and had paid R1-million to transport its members to Tshwane.
However, because Monday was a normal working day, the buses were providing regular transport services.
EFF national spokesperson Sinawo Thambo told News24 that the party was yet to report Chikunga to the Public Protector and possibly take her to court.
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