It’s work and school as usual on Thursday 17 June, say protest movement organisers. This is despite a flurry of social media posts urging a shutdown tomorrow.
The local taxi industry will meet early tomorrow to decide on a course of action following the visit to Makhanda Tuesday 15 June by a delegation led by MEC for Cooperative Governance Xolile Nqatha.
A change of venue for Nqatha’s engagement with stakeholder representatives and his refusal to address them directly did not go down well with protesters gathered outside the city hall. Posts on social media tonight suggested there should be a taxi strike and community shutdown on Thursday 17 June. However protest movement organisers have emphasised that tomorrow is not a shutdown.
“We resolved that people must go to work; children must go to school,” the Unemployed People’s Movement’s Ayanda Kota told GMDirect tonight.
“Taxis will be operating tomorrow and they will be transporting people.”
Community members met at Soccer City (Fingo Square on the corner of Raglan Road and Albert Street) today to decide on a course of action after what they labelled a snub.
GMDirect did not attend that meeting; however, Kota this evening told GMDirect that many of those present were frustrated and angered at what they saw as a snub by Nqatha and his delegation and were strongly in favour of a second shutdown.
“But any decision about community action has to be coherent,” said Kota. “A shutdown would only work if the entire community is behind it.
“We had not yet consulted the taxi industry. They will need to discuss it among themselves before we come to a decision about the next shutdown.”
GMDirect spoke to several officials and operators in both Uncedo and BATA taxi associations. Most said they had received no information about a shutdown; however, one senior official told GMD to call after 8am on Thursday.
“By that time we will be able to tell you more,” they said.
Kota said there was strong community pressure for another shutdown and that there would be a public meeting at 11am on Friday to discuss the course of action for the following week. The venue is yet to be confirmed, Kota said.
A Hooggenoeg taxi driver GMD spoke to insisted they would be going ahead with a shutdown; however, it wasn’t clear how extensive the support for protest action tomorrow would be.
Meanwhile, GMD understands that community members are set to gather outside the City Hall from 9am tomorrow to demonstrate their unhappiness with the current Council.
Nqatha’s delegation to Makhanda yesterday included MECs Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe (Roads, Transport and Safety) and Mlungisi Mvoko (Finance, Economic Development and Environmental Affairs), their heads of department and deputies.
An invitation seen by GMD indicated the Council Chambers at the City Hall would be the venue for an engagement between Nqatha’s delegation and local stakeholders. However, with community members gathered outside the city hall, and with no delegation in sight at the 1pm expected meeting time, protest movement organisers drove up to the Monument.
There they found a meeting well in progress, with some ANC councillors, members of the MK Military Veterans Association, and some members of the clergy in attendance, along with (among others) the Mayor, Municipal Manager and Speaker. GMD can confirm that a request from the Speaker for other councillors to come to the meeting was sent around 2.45pm. Taxi association officials who spoke to GMD said they weren’t aware of any representation by the industry. However MEC Nqatha’s spokesperson Makhaya Khomisa earlier today said there were taxi industry representatives there.
Khomisa said the delegation had received two presentations on progress in the issues identified when they were here on 26 May.
A technical committee had been established, led by the three heads of Department (Transport, Finance and Cogta).
“The chief directors and their deputies were assigned to assist the,” Khomisa said. “Given the 14-day deadline, they immediately looked into the details of the challenges identified by the protesters.”
At the last meeting, stakeholders had identified a number of quick-fixes that must be achieved namely, streetlights, high-mast lighting, potholes and the reliable provision of water.
“According to the report, these were achieved,” Khomisa said. “Lights and potholes were fixed, two water trucks were brought in from Amatola Water to assist with ensuring communities will get water.
“In addition, it was reported that the toilets art the taxi rank have been fixed.”
“Amatola Water is also the [implementing agent]in the long-term goal of ensuring an adequate water supply,” Khomisa said.
However, while earlier forecasts had indicated the augmented James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works would be able to supply the 20 megalitres a day that the town needs by September, the date for this is in fact December.
“The MEC applauded the committee for achieving the quick fixes,” Khomisa said.
GMD asked about the change of venue and time, given the invitation had said the meeting would take place in the Council Chamber at 1pm, Khomisa said it had been agreed at the 26 May meeting that the reportback would take place in the same venue (ie the Monument).
“The agreement was not for the MEC to report directly to the people, and therefore he refused,” Khomisa said. “It is the duty and responsibility of [constituency]leaders to report to the people. It is not the duty of the MEC to brief people about what transpired.”
Meanwhile Kota has revealed that he and taxi industry leader Lungisa Sixaba have been asked to form a civic movement to contest the upcoming local government elections. Kota is a co-founder of the Unemployed People’s Movement. Sixaba is the Transport Manager of Uncedo Taxi Association. Kotas and Sixaba were among the leadership of the 24-26 May Makhanda shutdown.