Cape Town - Township residents will be marching to the Western Cape legislature in Cape Town to demand a response on land and housing issues, a provincial ANC official said on Tuesday.
“Around 2000 to 3000 people will be coming from the Cape town townships of Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Strand, Delft, Gugulethu, Manenberg, Langa, Hout Bay, Atlantis and Kraaifontein,” said provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile.
The purpose of the African National Congress march on Wednesday morning was to get a response from premier Helen Zille.
Mjongile said a memorandum of demands was delivered after a march on February 5. He complained that no response had been forthcoming.
Mayor Patricia de Lille had responded to the demands on February 27, according to a scanned document seen by Sapa.
The ANC responded to De Lille's letter on March 19, criticising her responses and the way she had “cherry-picked” certain issues to respond to.
Among the ANC's demands were that land be made available for religious and cultural purposes, that houses be given to “backyarders” and that the bucket and portable toilet system be immediately eradicated.
Zille's spokesman Zak Mbhele said on Tuesday that the issues raised during the march and in the memorandum last month related entirely to local and national competencies.
“The city has responded to matters relating to municipal delivery and the Western Cape government cannot comment on others for which it is not responsible,” he said.
“It is ironic that the ANC laments not having received a response from the premier’s office when the ANC and Congress of SA Trade Union leaders of the march denied her the opportunity to speak on that occasion.”
Mbhele said Zille would have directed their grievances appropriately had she been given the chance to speak.
“The Western Cape ANC has no leg to stand on in their protestations when the matters in their memo, like policing, recognition of Khoisan traditional leadership and land reform rest principally in the national government’s jurisdiction.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Zille expressed concern that the planned march might not be peaceful because of the recent reinstatement of the ringleaders of last year's so-called “poo protests”.
Loyiso Nkohla and Andile Lili were welcomed back into the ANC on Monday following a successful appeal process with the provincial disciplinary committee.
They led protesters in dumping faeces on, among others, the steps of the Western Cape legislature and at Cape Town International Airport last year.
“The ANC is set to march to the provincial legislature tomorrow [Wednesday] and Mr Lili and Mr Nkohla, now full members of the ANC again, have been making repeated threats of ungovernability against the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government,” Zille said.
She said their reinstatement showed how disingenuous the ANC had been all along in trying to avoid blame for the rhetoric inciting violence and destructive riots that Lili and Nkohla were behind for months.
Mjongile reassured that the march would be peaceful.
“All ANC marches are peaceful. Don't worry about that. They [the Democratic Alliance] must sort their issues with their nemesis.”
Mjongile said it was not appropriate to ask him whether Lili and Nkohla would be attending the march.
“That's not important to us. The leadership of the ANC will be marching.”
The Cape Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday said that protesters who damaged property and disrupted business should be held accountable.
“We already have court judgments making union organisers responsible for the damage to property caused by their undisciplined members on protest marches and the same principle should apply to other demonstrations,” said chamber president Janine Myburgh.
People had a constitutional right to protest but this right did not include throwing stones at cars or blocking national roads, she said.
While it was difficult to sometimes identify individuals who had overstepped the mark, the police and City of Cape Town should look for “more imaginative ways” to deal with unruly protesters.
“There are usually organisers involved and I would like to see some of them in court and possibly being sentenced to perform community service,” Myburgh said.
“A bit of community service might give them a better insight into the problems of service delivery.”
The march would start in Keizersgracht Street in Cape Town at 10am.