Pretoria - Presidency Minister Khumbudzo Ntshaveni has defended the government’s decision to block buses from transporting EFF supporters to various destinations during the party’s national shutdown Monday.
This after EFF leader Julius Malema revealed on Monday that newly appointed Transport Minister Sindi Chikunga convened an urgent meeting on Sunday with stakeholders in the sector, forcing them not to honour any bookings from the EFF.
Malema said they had paid a Transnat bus company R1m to hire 280 buses.
“There was no sabotage on the part of government. We just had to make sure that everybody plays by the rules,” Ntshaveni told the SABC during an interview.
Ntshaveni was responding to comments made by Malema when he said the government had sabotaged their national shutdown with strong arm tactics, forcing the EFF to be without a service provider at the last minute.
Transnat bus company said it could not continue with the deal owing to threats from Chikunga, who apparently threatened to withdraw a government subsidy paid to bus companies if they transported EFF supporters.
“As government, we have to play our part to make sure that citizens are protected. We are not going to allow state resources to be used by hooligans wanting to disrupt the country,” Ntshaveni added.
When asked why the government did not deploy the police and the army on a daily basis to combat crime, as it was clear it could, Ntshaveni said it would be an expensive exercise to put in place such measures on a daily basis.
“This was a special operation, and special operations in their nature are expensive… But we are going to respond as a security cluster, but not at the level that we have (today).”
Meanwhile, Malema said he was content with the turnout of the shutdown, despite the bus company dumping them at the last minute.
“This was a successful march… Today alone we cancelled load shedding. Scientifically, Eskom is saying to you (that) the grid users of electricity are not using it today, and there’s sufficient electricity,” he said
However, Ntshaveni dismissed Malema’s statement, saying the party’s march had nothing to do with the the reduction in load shedding.
Instead, Ntshaveni said Eskom had mentioned that towards the end of March and the beginning of April the country would experience lower stages of load shedding.