ANC in KZN ready to counter political opportunists using community protests
Durban - The ANC in KZN says it is ready to counter political opportunists who are allegedly using genuine community protests to position themselves for power ahead of next year's local government elections.
Speaking exclusively to Independent Media on Sunday just before the party's two-day provincial executive committee meeting in Durban, provincial chairperson and premier, Sihle Zikalala said they are aware that protests are often hijacked by opportunists.
As a result, Zikalala said they have developed a strategy to ensure that opportunism does not succeed. He was, however, quick to say that the strategy does not override genuine community protests in favour of keeping their mayors in power.
The undertaking comes days after the ruling party ordered Alfred Duma (Ladysmith) municipality mayor, Vincent Madlala to take sick leave in order to allow the party to listen to violent protestors that had shut down the town for the past two weeks.
Critics said by shafting mayors every time there is a protest was opening an opportunity for members of the community who want to be councillors and mayors in next year’s local government elections to hijack legitimate protests.
“I think that is a serious concern that we are having, but we reached a decision not to suspend the mayor (Madlala) but to accept that he wanted a leave because he was not well… We are developing that approach (of containing opportunism) and I think we are all cautioned to ensure that we deal with opportunists who try to position themselves and undermine sitting councillors or the current mayors... We will not act haphazardly but also not act against the community. So we have to balance the two, what the community is saying and but what is the process and the process does not allow that you just withdraw the mayor,” Zikalala said.
Ladysmith is not the first KZN town to experience such protests and having the ANC shafting mayors.
It started in Mandeni in March last year where the ANC was forced to recall former mayor Siphesile Zulu who was accused of corruption (he denies that and there is an ongoing probe).
Zulu pointed fingers at his regional enemies. In January this year, there was a violent shut down of Newcastle and the mayor there, Ntuthuko Mahlaba said the protests were proxy funded to oust him because he was fighting corruption that was benefitting his opponents in the eMalahleni region.
To a lesser extent, they have been shutdowns in Dumbe, Port Shepstone and Adams in Durban but the mayors were not affected.
Political analyst, Thabani Khumalo said it was given that opportunists will use the protests ahead of the local elections to positions themselves for power.
“Opportunists are definitely going to use the community protests in the run-up to the election year to pave way for themselves to power… The protests are going to spiral as the elections get closer,” Khumalo said.
Meanwhile, Zikalala will on Monday visit Jozini and Mhlabuyalingana along to the SA-Mozambique border to resolve violent community protests that have shut down the towns since last week. The community want the government to intervene and halt the hijacking and smuggling of vehicles to Mozambique which they alleged some corrupt police officers are involved.