Mayor Solly Msimanga addresses a group of angry residents in Ga-Rankuwa. Picture: Rapula Moatshe

Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga and DA leader Mmusi Maimane had to be escorted out of a youth development centre by the police on Tuesday in Ga-Rankuwa after a group of hostile community members threatened to disrupt their visit to the township.

The pair was hurled with insults by angry residents, who bitterly complained about poor service delivery in the township. 

The purpose of their visit was to interact with young entrepreneurs from a small business project called Ga-Rankuwa Arts and Crafts Centre.

However, on their arrival they were taken by surprise by a group of people, who insisted that Msimanga addressed their long-standing service delivery complaints such as the sewage spillages and poor infrastructure.

Msimanga agreed to give them an audience at the gate of the centre, where they vented their anger and frustration about poor service delivery in general.

Their interaction started off peacefully with Msimanga expressing sympathy to their concerns. But, emotions suddenly ran high after other community member arrived, demanding Msimanga leave their area. 

Msimanga then walked inside the centre, where he joined Maimane to interact with small business operators. 

A group of angry residents in Ga-Rankuwa. Video: Rapula Moatshe

He was, however, followed by the group, that accused of him of wanting to drum up support for the DA ahead of the national and provincial elections in 2019.

The group was however prevented by Maimane and Msimanga's bodyguards from entering the centre. They waited outside the gate, where they threw insults at the mayor.

Police were called in while both Msimanga and Maimane were about to conclude their visit to escort them out of the venue.

A resident Mduduzi Mopai said many people in zone 14 had lived in shacks and poor condition since 2013.

"The mayor came to our settlement in 2016 when he was canvassing for votes. He promised the community electricity and to formalise their area, but since then nothing has happened," he said.

Mopai said the community was surprised to learn about the mayor's visit to the arts and craft centre and not to zone 14, where service delivery is most needed.

"This centre they are visiting today only has 25 learners. Why does he fail to go to zone 14 where there are serious problems? The sewage spillage is overflowing everywhere in the township. Some of the roads here are not tarred and they become impassable during rainy seasons," he said.

He accused Msimanga of not having the welfare of communities at heart, saying he became unreachable after assuming the mayoral office.

Msimanga said: "What is happening here is very telling. We had a group of people who said we want to engage with you, mayor. And this is one of the areas where we have been wanting to come and address issues of service delivery, but we have been blocked time and time again. Today what is happening is a classic example of that."

He said there were people, who genuinely wanted to engage with him, while others were interested in causing havoc.

"We need to move beyond this thing of politicising service delivery. I am committed to delivering services across the city but there are those that are hellbent on ensuring that we don't hear the communities," he said.

Msimanga told community members that he would host a meeting with them within two weeks.
He said the city would ensure that the meeting takes place despite possibilities by some people to disrupt it.

Maimane said the City has injected at least R2 billion into development of township economy.

"Our whole view as an organisation and the party is that we need to create work for our people and ensure that Soutth Africans can find work," he said.

He said the furture of the country was about helping small businesses.
Entreprenuers at the centre he visited were given opportunities to start and run their small businesses through the FabLab programme, an initiative advanced by the DA-led administration in partnership with the Innovation Hub Management Company.

"I decided come and see for myself how you help support micro entreprise and small business to be able to thrive and create work," Maimane said.

Project manager Buti Makama expressed gratitude to the visit by the political leaders.

"This is a great gesture and we really appreciate it. Going forward, I really hope the youth will take part in the programme that we offer here which are available free of charge to come and use them and ensure that they run sustainable businesses and they are able to create jobs for others."