CARIEN DU PLESSIS and SAPA
WHILE youth organisations yesterday called for heads to roll after revelations that an ANC-led council in the Free State had built open toilets for its residents, the ANC claimed one of its own ministers had failed to inform it about what had been declared by a court as a human rights infringement.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu told journalists yesterday that the party had “evidence that Luthuli House didn’t know there were open toilets in Moqhaka municipality”, but this was inhuman and the party would take action.
“It wasn’t brought to the attention of the ANC by anybody, not even Sicelo (Shiceka, Co-operative Governance minister),” he said.
Mthembu said the regional and provincial leadership had not alerted the ANC to the matter either.
Shiceka, who is on sick leave and is being investigated for allegedly misspending public money, seemed to have been aware of the issue since last July, when City Press reported on the more than 1 600 open toilets and approached him for comment.
The DA laid a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission in September and asked for updates twice when the commission appeared before the justice portfolio committee in Parliament – where ANC MPs were also present.
ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa said the ANC would probe the unenclosed Free State toilets and take “strong action” against those found to have done wrong.
“No one has a right to subject our people to such dehumanising conditions in the name of the ANC,” Phosa said.
Phosa added that open toilets violated human rights, and “unlike the DA” the ANC would not wait for a court or the Human Rights Commission ruling before taking action.
Three hundred toilets had been enclosed so far and the ANC would ensure the remaining toilets were seen to “without delay”.
The ANC Youth League recently took the DA-led City of Cape Town council to court for leaving toilets in Makhaza unenclosed, and the court ordered the council to enclose the toilets.
The DA and the ANC have since used the toilet issue to attack each other in the lead up to next Wednesday’s local government elections.
Youth League leader Julius Malema, who yesterday visited Rammulotsi near Viljoenskroon with Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, ANC national executive committee member Tony Yengeni and Free State Premier Ace Magashule, said somebody should take responsibility for the open toilets.
“Heads must roll,” he said.
He said no municipalities should provide open toilets. It should not even cross their minds.
Malema said that if a municipality did not have enough money to build a fully enclosed toilet, it should not even begin.
Magashule repeated the ANC’s earlier comment that it had not known about the open toilets.
Yesterday, Malema’s message to those in the street was that the ANC’s leadership had come to Rammulotsi and that things would happen.
“This old woman must say that the ANC was here and that her plight will be taken care of. They (the toilets) will be closed.”
Mbalula said Moqhaka mayor Mantebu Mokgosi and municipal manager Mcedisi Mqwathi had explained that the toilets would be enclosed in phases.
“We condemn open toilets. It’s inhumane,” said Mbalula.
Yengeni said the ANC’s national working committee first saw a report on the Viljoenskroon situation on Monday.
“There’s no excuse for this. People in the municipality must take full responsibility.”
The Young Communist League said last night that the Moqhaka mayor and her council should resign over the saga.