Western Cape Total Shutdown Communities (WCTSC) regards Tuesday’s protests in the city to have been a success and is looking at establishing a nationwide platform similar to how the UDF, a united front against oppression, operated in the 1980s against apartheid.
WCTSC representative Gatto Wanza told the Cape Times politicians have failed the country and that it was a mistake to have disbanded the UDF in 1991. He said the three levels of government are in violation of their constitutional duty by not working together to serve the people, instead choosing to blame each other.
Wanza also believes mayoral committee member for safety and security, and social services JP Smith has got it all wrong and that the protests were not about gangsterism, crime and inadequate policing, but about the deteriorating socio-economic conditions the majority of people are living in
During a meeting earlier today in Bonteheuwel, set up after yesterday's protests, the community preferred a private audience with Police Minister Bheki Cele, insisting they wanted nothing to do with Smith and local ward councillor Angus McKenzie, who were part of the police's delegation.
Commenting on the protests, which caused a lockdown in certain parts of the city and led to 24 people being arrested (all but one were released), Wanza said: “The success for us is that in the past the protests by communities were done individually. Now we are acting collectively. More and more people are coming together and we are building a grass-roots organisation through the support of the various communities.
“The community organisations are coming together. We are rebuilding the communities like we did in the 1980s with the UDF. We are anti-party politics. That is a colonial system that was brought to Africa. We don’t believe that party politics has got any place in our land.
“What we are picking up is that more and more people are approaching us, even from the Eastern Cape and nationally, and this movement is growing. We opted for a party political system and now realise it was wrong to disband the UDF. We handed our future over to a political party, whereas the solutions to our problems lie with the communities."
Wanza doesn’t agree with Smith’s view that policing must be assigned to the provincial government.
“JP Smith can’t blame the national government. Our view is there is only one government that operates on three levels. The three levels are purposefully pointing fingers at each other, but the constitution requires them to co-operate with each other. This thing where the City and provincial government are fighting with national government is a violation of the constitution. They are failing in their mandate in terms of serving the people.
“The second point we want to make in terms of what Smith is saying is that we are not protesting against gangsterism. We are protesting around the socio-economic conditions in our communities. Gangsterism is only one part of this. So they have got it totally wrong.
“The root cause is that we have been displaced and chucked on the Cape Flats. This is where the problem lies, because the whole strategy of the state is that the indigenous people must destroy each other while they continue exploiting our resources. That is the bottom line.
“A place like Manenberg was built in the 1960s for 32 000 people. Today we are in excess of 200 000 people living on top of each other.
“We have to address the inequality because the foreign rich are getting richer while the indigenous poor are falling by the wayside. For us to bring about change, we need to unite the working-class communities, that is our priority. Once we have achieved that, then we can take on anything. This is all part of a national process that has been kick-started here in the Western Cape."
Wanza also took exception to comments by Smith that their protests were illegal.
“We didn’t apply for any permits because we don’t believe that we need any permit. What JP Smith is promoting is illegal because people need to go back to the constitution, Section 17.7, which says we have got the right to protest peacefully. We don’t need to ask anybody whether we can protest or not. What they are relying on is old apartheid legislation.
“The violence which the police used yesterday was reminiscent of the old apartheid days. And that just shows to us that nothing has changed since 1994, that we still have the old way of dealing with problems.
“Our gripe isn’t with the police but with the economic system that is protecting the rich and we need to get to a point where people are speaking to each other. So we are ultimately looking at a point where the rich and the poor are speaking to each other around the same table.”
Wanza said his organisation will not be involved in the Western Cape Shutdown planned for October 3 in the CBD. Cosatu is behind a march against gangsterism, violent crime against women and children, police brutality and poor service delivery.
“We are not part of that. We met with those people and Cosatu is driving that process with the CPFs. We asked if they wanted to work together with us, but they have chosen to do things on their own. We are continuing with our process and we don’t agree with their process.”