Poo protest a sign of intolerance, says Gordhan
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Former minister of finance Pravin Gordhan said the "poo and stone throwing" incidents that had prevented him from speaking at an event in KwaDukuza on Sunday were indicative of the intolerance of the rights of others.
He had been invited by the Concerned Citizens Group to speak at a fundraising event, but local ANCYL members were angered by his presence in the town.
Earlier in the day, two men dumped two buckets of faeces at the entrance to the Stanger Siva Sungum hall before Gordhan's arrival.
The secretary of an ANCYL branch in KwaDukuza, referred to as "Monkeytown" informal settlement, said they had organised 10 minibus taxis to bring supporters to disrupt the event.
Lucky Mbokazi said their members had dumped the faeces as a protest against the building of a mall in KwaDukuza and it was not specifically aimed at the former finance minister.
The mall is being built on a sports ground where King Goodwill Zwelithini usually hosts the King Shaka memorial function.
However protesters carried placards that referred to Gordhan.
Speaking to Independent Media, Gordhan said protesters had attempted to break down the door to the hall while he was seated on the stage.
“People have a right to meet and a fundamental right to hold a discussion. This was sheer intimidation.”
He said people had paid for the event and this was an example of intolerance.
“This was intolerance of the highest order. People can’t mobilise on the basis of intolerance. People have the right to do what they want to do,” he said.
“This kind of intolerance and reckless behaviour is totally unacceptable.”
In April Gordhan and ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize were booed, allegedly by members of the league at the memorial service for struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada in Durban. Mkhize was not available to comment on yesterday’s incident.
Heckled at Kathrada memorial
Gordhan said he was mortified that a meeting at a community hall was targeted.
He said he was not chased away from the hall but intended to leave as he had a flight to catch.
In the initial chaos there was panic inside the hall as stones were thrown at the building. Gordhan was taken away by his bodyguards but returned a few minutes later. Event organisers then introduced Gordhan but before he started his speech a door was broken down and protesters threw food in the hall. Gordhan spoke briefly.
“What is happening here is undermining the Constitution which refers to the right to association and the right to form civic groups. These are rights that we must defend. There was no consultation between those in need... the poor and those who are constructing the mall," Gordhan said.
As protesters entered the hall, they grabbed refreshments and threw food on the floor. Some became involved in scuffles with the people in the hall. The event had to be abandoned.
Independent Media journalists saw police, security guards and municipal traffic officers in the area but they did not intervene. Eventually, a representative of the ANCYL in KwaDukuza asked the protesters to disperse. No one was arrested.
Mfanafuthi Ngcobo, ANC Youth League chairperson in the KwaDukuza region, said the league did not organise the protest.
“We came here to observe the situation and calm the people down.
Ngcobo addressed the crowd and asked them to disperse as they had achieved their objective.
Ngcobo also criticised Gordhan for addressing a certain portion of the community.
"Comrade Pravin did not tell the ANC that he was coming to address people here. He chose to speak to one section of the community," Ngcobo said.
Political analyst Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana told The Mercury that the events were reflective of the country's current climate of political intolerance.
“It’s not surprising at all. This is not the first time one of Gordhan’s speaking engagements has been disrupted.”
He explained that many had been made uncomfortable by the exposure of the corruption within the ANC.
“The recent release of Jacques Pauw’s book has heightened tensions, especially since Gordhan has come out in support of it.”
He said that the turn of events was “quite a shame”.