Komani residents continued with their protest on Friday for a second day demanding the municipality be dissolved. Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani
| By Mkhuseli SizaniBrief | Eastern Cape
For a second day, the town centre of Komani (formerly Queenstown) has been completely shut down by protests. As early as 7am, protesters gathered at Hexagon Square.
They proceeded to force the closure of the Queenstown Magistrate Court, the local taxi ranks and schools, and the Chris Hani District Municipal offices. (The district municipality is responsible for water and sewage in Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality.)
A street away, ANC supporters guarded the party’s district office all day. A heavy police presence kept the ANC supporters and the protesters apart.
The protesters said the local municipality is overwhelmed by corruption and completely dysfunctional under the ANC. They are prepared to go to court to have the municipality dissolved if Cooperative Governance Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana do not intervene.
Electricity outages, they say, have been going on for years. There are also water outages, uncollected garbage, impassable roads and a lack of jobs.
Formal business and informal trading were brought to a standstill by the protests that paralysed the town.
Lubabalo Goxo, 26, of Newtown, cleans sneakers and sells belts.
“This shutdown is severely affecting me and my family of five,” he said.
“My father is a casual petrol attendant … the fuel stations are closed because of the protests and this means we have no food at home.”
Nevertheless he said he does support the reasons for the protest.
“The corrupt ANC leaders run this municipality as their spaza shop,” he said.
Ken Clark, of Twizza and Crickly Dairy, said, “We are fighting for the same cause with the community, but we were never consulted about this shutdown. Closing the businesses is not right. I have about 1,000 workers who were intimidated by the protesters not to come to work.”
“As business people, we will meet today with the protesters and try to come up with a better solution … We cannot have a shutdown on top of an electricity crisis,” he said.
Axolile Masiza, of Komani Protesters Action, said, “We are sick and tired of the corrupt ANC leadership. We want this municipality back in the safe hands of this community.”
Solomzi Nkwentsha, a community leader said Zolile Williams, the provincial COGTA MEC met with a delegation of protestors this afternoon to listen to their grievances.
“We have met with Williams and asked him to call Dr Dlamini-Zuma to come here in Komani and address the residents within five days starting from today,” said Nkwentsha. “We want both Williams and Minister to be both present when they meet us to dissolve this municipality next week Wednesday. Tomorrow everything is going back to normal.”
“Williams said he is new in his office but he knows very well that this municipality is dead.”