Gauteng / 7 September 2015, 09:59am / Rapula Moatshe
Pretoria -The Tshwane workers under the Vat Alles programme who staged a violent protest in Soshanguve last week were well within their rights.
This is according to the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), which expressed its support for the workers who burnt four vehicles belonging to the City of Tshwane and barricaded roads.
Samwu general secretary Walter Theledi would on Monday meet the workers in Soshanguve to listen to their grievances, said spokesman Papikie Mohale.
Workers went on strike over the non-payment of their stipends and demanded to be permanently employed by the city.
They smashed office windows with stones and damaged two other vehicles, in addition to those they had already set alight.
Their anger was directed at executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa, whom they accused of having failed to keep his promise to make sure they were paid their outstanding monthly stipends.
Mohale said the workers’ demands were legitimate and should be addressed immediately. The treatment of the workers by the municipality was tantamount to unfair labour practice, he said.
The DA in the capital, meanwhile, said the Vat Alles programme had been beset by problems since its launch in 2012.
The party’s spokesman for economic development, Cilliers Brink, said the Vat Alles programme had been a reward and recruitment scheme.
“DA councillors constantly receive reports of Vat Alles and other jobs only being open to those who can flash ANC membership cards,” he said.
The ANC condemned the violent behaviour of those who masterminded the protest, calling it counter-revolutionary.
ANC Tshwane regional spokes-man Teboho Joala said the perpetrators of the protest masqueraded as champions of the interests of the party’s members. The ANC unequivocally distanced itself from such acts, he said.
He said the majority of the Vat Alles workers who wanted to return to work were being intimidated by counter-revolutionary forces.
Joala said the municipality had made significant strides to reduce unemployment through the Vat Alles programme.
He encouraged young people to take advantage of programmes such as Vat Alles that provide job opportunities as well as skills development.
“While the leadership of the ANC acknowledges some of the challenges and the competing expectations of our people and the rights of citizens to voice their concerns, there’s no justification whatsoever for communities to destroy government and private property,” he said.
Those who plot to perpetrate violence should face the full might of the law, he warned.
Ramokgopa’s spokesman, Blessing Manale, said Vat Alles workers weren’t paid their stipends because they had not worked.
Police spokesman Warrant Officer Matthews Nkoadi said a case of public violence has been opened against the perpetrators.
No arrests have yet been made, but the investigation was ongoing, he said.
However, it was reported at the weekend that some of the Vat Alles members involved in the violence last week had been arrested.
The Pretoria News was not able to independently confirm this.