In a meeting with protesters at Fingo Square this morning, Ayanda Kota: *Appealed to the crowd not to do anything to undermine a legal opposition to the interdict, warning that such action would put pressure on the police to act.
*Announced that the Makana Citizens Front was being registered with IEC as a vehicle for community candidates.
*Said the shutdown is suspended.
(Source: Philip Machanick, confirmed by Ayanda Kota)
Ayanda Kota has confirmed that he will oppose the interdict (Source: Ayanda Kota)
Makana Municipality and the Makana Council have applied for an interdict against Ayanda Kota and United Front representative Lungile Mxube from “gathering in groups in breach of Level 3 Lockdown regulations and taking part in unlawful protest action; preventing the free movement and/or access to Makhanda by members of the general public, particularly schoolgoing children, and workers who are communting to and from work; preventing the opening of asnd lawful operation of any business within Makhanda.” (Source: Copy of the interdict (Case no 1806/2021)
With the citywide shutdown set to roll into a second day, Makana Municipality has appealed to protesters to allow businesses and essential services to open. Meanwhile, protest leaders aim to have achieved a clear way forward for the community by the end of today.
Posts urging a shutdown on Thursday flooded local social media groups on Wednesday night. This followed the visit to Makhanda on 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.
Calls for a taxi strike and community shutdown on Thursday 17 June quickly spread, in contrast to statements by protest movement organisers that businesses, schools and essential services should remain open.
“Taxis will be operating tomorrow,” the UPM’s Ayanda Kota told GMDirect on Wednesday night. On Tuesday afternoon, community members had met at Soccer City (Fingo Square on the corner of Raglan Road and Albert Street) to decide on a course of action.
Kota 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.”
That wasn’t to be, though, as community members across the town took matters into their own hands and started setting up burning barricades across access routes between the township and the CBD from as early as 4am.
Nqatha’s delegation to Makhanda on Tuesday included MECs Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe (Roads, Transport and Safety) and Mlungisi Mvoko (Finance, Economic Development and Environmental Affairs), their heads of department and deputies.
Communication 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 all 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. However MEC Nqatha’s spokesperson Makhaya Khomisa assured GMD there were taxi industry representatives present.
GMD asked about the change of venue and time. 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 challenges fronting Makana Local Municipality had been categorised into short- and long-term plans, Komisa said.
Short-term plans included the fixing of potholes, streets lights, water outages, high-mast light and fixing of toilets in the taxi rank. Long-term projects were fixing the water infrastructure and production capacity.
“A technical team comprised of Makana Local Municipality, Water Affairs officials and three provincial departments was established to deal with both short- and long-term plans,” Komisa said. “Subsequently a resolution was taken to report back within 30 days to assess progress. Consensus was reached amongst all stakeholders and government that feedback report will be presented to the leaders of protesters.”
Komisa said the government had convened a reportback meeting on 15 June 2021 in Settlers Monument.
“Prior to meeting commencement, leaders of protesters who were not part of the initial leadership demanded MECs to go and address all protesters in a public meeting. The government leadership objected to replace leadership of protesters instead requested them to listen to report back report. The leadership of protesters flatly refused to comply with the resolution of the last meeting whilst some remained to listen to the report back… Government presented progress made, especially on short term plans. The remaining leadership of protesters applauded government for sterling work and advised circulation of information pertaining to progress to all stakeholders in Makhanda. The meeting resolved to improve communication strategy to prevent further protests.”
Nqatha condemned the protests and said the problems of Makhanda had been hijacked “by people with nefarious political agenda”. He said the three MECs were still committed to providing a feedback report to Makhanda’s people through their leaders.
“Government calls on law enforcement agency to restore law and order in Makhanda as some protesters are malicious,” the statement said.
However, the crowd yesterday demanded Premier Oscar Mabuyane come to Makhanda and directly intervene. Pleas by local businesspeople to allow schools and businesses to continue operating, as well as an offer to sponsor taxis for protesters to take their demands directly to the Premier in Bhisho were rejected outright and a day of negotiations and interventions ended in a stalemate.
The crowd on Thursday was much bigger than the group gathered in front of the city hall two days earlier to await the reportback from Nqatha. The original protest movement leadership – an alliance between taxi association leadership, the Unemployed People’s Movement and community leaders in different parts of Makhanda – struggled to maintain coherence as a handful of individuals repeatedly commanded the attention of a grouping determined to proceed on their own terms. While protest leaders stopped short of saying the demonstrations had been hijacked, Kota admitted there were “unruly elements” within the crowd.
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. Kota and Sixaba were among the leadership of the 24-26 May Makhanda shutdown.
In a statement issued last night, Makana Municipality appealed to protesting residents to allow businesses and essential services to operate while they exercise their Constitutional right to protest for services.
“The Municipality would like to reassure the residents of Makana Local Municipality that work is being done to address the challenges they have raised,” the statement issued by the Communications Department said.
Municipal services had stopped because of the protests with refuse collection suspended for safety reasons. Water supply valves could not be opened in a number of areas yesterday due blocked roads. These were the inlet for Tantyi Reservoir (Fingo, Raglan Road, Ndancama, Scott’s Farm, part of Vukani and part of Tantyi); Hoogenoeg (Hoogenoeg area, Andrew Hembro, Schnell Street and Trollope Extension) and Transit Camp valve (Transit Camp, Extension 6 and 7).
Municipal workers, including essential services are not at work.
Mayor Mzukisi Mpahlwa appealed for calm. “I appeal to the community to make sure that the protest must happen within the prescripts of the law and that community property should not be destroyed in the process of protesting,” he said.
Meanwhile the Department of Health’s Thursday scheduled opening of a second Covid-19 vaccination site, at Extension 9 Hall was halted because blocked roads prevented staff from reaching the venue. Around 100 mostly elderly people in the 60-plus category eligible for Phase 2 vaccinations, who had arrived early for their shots, had to be turned away.
GMDirect can confirm that Joza Clinic was open on Thursday; however, boys who went to Tantyi Clinic for their pre-initiation screening and medical check-up found it closed. The first group of Makhanda initiates is due to go into the bush this weekend.
Kota early Friday morning told GMDirect that protest organisers intended to conclude on a clear course of action by the end of today.
“Today together with the community we will be seeking a way forward that will have maximum impact on [how the municipality is governed],” Kota said.
Schools and many businesses were closed this morning. Protesters gathered as early as 5am at the main (Post Office) intersection in Joza.