Pretoria - Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements, Urban Planning and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Lebogang Maile has committed to work with the DA-led Ekurhuleni municipality in resolving the Tembisa unrest.
Maile was speaking to members of the media at Tembisa Police Station yesterday after his meeting with Ekurhuleni mayor Tania Campbell and the leadership of the Tembisa Community Forum (TCF).
He also dismissed assertions that there was a third force involved in the Tembisa protests as asserted by Campbell on Monday night. The mayor had said that there was a third hand fuelling the protest in order to destabilise the coalition-led municipality.
The meeting was sparked by a two-day fiery protest that left a trail of destruction in the township. Four people died, hundreds were injured, millions of rand in damages to public infrastructure (was inflicted) and most parts of the Ekurhuleni township was left without power.
Although calm had been restored by yesterday morning, residents on Monday and Tuesday blockaded roads with burning tyres, rocks and heavy metal objects in protest over service delivery and “expensive” rates, taxes and high electricity bills.
Maile said: “We have come to commit ourselves to working with the municipality irrespective of who leads the municipality.
“We are not obsessed with politics and political parties. We are obsessed in solving the problems of the people.
“We want to make sure that in whatever engagements we are having we are able to solve the problem that the people are facing.
Among problems that Maile mentioned was billing. He said there was a problem across the country when it came to billing.
“There has to be a comprehensive, co-ordinated and systematic way to deal with billing. If we don’t deal with billing, unfortunately it will have an impact on people paying. We want people to pay and when people pay they expect to get reliable service.
He said the reason for the meeting was for the municipality and the government to understand the problems that were facing the people of Tembisa.
“We have given the opportunity to the community forum to lead us and tell us what the issues are. We have also given the opportunity for the mayor to respond. And she responded positively to today’s meeting.
“We have realised that there are many issues, and some of those issues can be resolved in the short term and others in the medium and long term.
“There are also issues that will require the national government and the province to work with the municipality,” Maile said.
By yesterday morning, children were back at school while residents returned to work. The blockades on the streets were clearer and taxis were back on their routes.
However, residents warned that the suspension of the protest was dependent on Campbell’s promise to meet and address their demands on Friday.
Speaking to Pretoria News after the meeting, Tembisa Community Forum chairperson Zamani Sithole said they had asked residents to suspend the protests.
He said: “We have asked the people to suspend the protest. So yes I can confirm to you that the protest is over. However, we can’t control everybody. Some will continue without our control.”
Resident Pule Matshile,42, said the protest would only be suspended for the next two days depending on what Campbell had to say to them.
“It really all depends on feedback from the mayor. But other than that a lot of people went to work today and children went to school. It will all depend on what happens on Friday,” Matshile said.
Maile called for residents to demonstrate peacefully when they take to the streets. He called for calm saying the government was on top of the situation.