Protestors shutdown Komani awaiting for cabinet response

PROTEST CONTINUES: Masses of Komani residents addressed by one of the Komani Protest Action committee members Solomzi Nkwentsha at the Chris Hani Hexagon earlier today   Picture: UVIWE JARA

Komani Protest Action (KPA) committee says it is too late for Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) to begin implementing service delivery ‘only now’ in Komani.

In fact, they were calling for Masiyabu Trading, which is currently busy with road construction works in Mlungisi and SNR implementing electricity repairs to leave as they were not pleased with them.

KPA leader Solomzi Nkwentsha echoed these words to local residents who came out in numbers during the second round of the mass protest, stating that what they demanded was EMLM’s dissolution.

As well as for Lukhanji Local Municipality, Nkwanca and Tsolwana municipalities to be independent of the amalgamation.

The shutdown continues as Komani residents wait for Cogta Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to give feedback on what the president and his cabinet have decided should transpire, after Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

In an exclusive interview with The Rep prior to the protest, KPA‘s Axolile Masiza had said Dlamini-Zuma had been made aware of the shutdown.

“While this is happening, Dlamini-Zuma is aware that the more she drags the matter the more shutdowns will be implemented. This is not something that came out of the blue. We discussed it with the senior government officials.”

He said the minister is also aware of what would follow next should the cabinet not dissolve EMLM.

“During our presentation, we told Dlamini Zuma that if the municipality is not dissolved we will dissolve the municipality for her. We do not need to reposition ourselves again. What we said to her will happen. The sooner she does that the better it would be for the community of Enoch Mgijima.”

Masiza further stated that EMLM has serious problems, which is why it needed good leadership.

In his view, the officials are worried about their positions and salaries and nothing else.

“If Zuma Dlamini removes her cadres from those positions let it be, if the municipality is dissolved, the community is ready, IEC will prepare by-elections, the communities must be ready to appoint their own community leaders, but something will change this time around.”

He said they expected Dlamini-Zuma to inform them telephonically about the decision taken by the cabinet.

They were also expecting the call to be followed by a written letter from her office confirming what she had said.

“We are going to seat again and invite the minister to tell us when she is starting with the processes. We do not need finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, he must look after the National Cabinet Representatives report and oversee the taxpayers’ state of finance and where the monies he had sent to EMLM have gone,” Masiza said.

However, this time around businesses were not keen on the shutdown, due to Eskom loadshedding as the industry had to face hefty costs to run generators.

But in the morning they were forced to close abruptly by protestors.

Before the incident, Masiza had stated that they will not be standing in the way of businesses seeking to operate, but they would be doing so at their own risk.

He had mentioned that the KPA committee members will not be held responsible for any damages should protesters get out of control.

Masiza informed that letters were sent to business owners concerning the shutdown.

“We are not in a position of stopping anyone. Letters were sent to the business chamber for them to inform the business owners who are affiliated with the chamber. They are not forced to close, but at the same time, they will be opening their businesses at their own risk. We are not going to go door to door to tell people to close. But at the same time, we will not be made responsible for anything that may transpire in their shops.”

He remarked that some people made it seem as if they were witnessing a protest in Komani for the first time.

“When you stand in the way of the community while people are protesting for their rights, you become the victim. At the moment, the businesses sector is playing the victim, but once they are ignorant of the mandate of the community, all the businesses will be identified and no one will go and buy.”

Schools have been also given notices concerning the protest. The hostel staff were allowed to go to work.

“Places like Queen’s College have hostels, so we cannot put our children at risk. The schools will be closed but hostel employees can go to work to feed the children,” Masiza outlined.

Meanwhile, KPA committee members have stated that they were confident and will never back down or remove their eyes from the ball of fighting for EMLM’s dissolution.

After their first Komani shutdown, allegations of KPA committee members being offered a bribe(s) to end the shutdown surfaced. KPA committee members reassured residents in their briefings at the Hexagon that they will never be bought and R10 000 will never shake them.

The KPA committee members met with Dlamini-Zuma early this month. On that day of the address one of the committee members Mncedisi Mbengo said: “We noticed a red polo that kept on passing by that had people looking at us suspiciously but we did not take that seriously.”

KPA committee members continued to rally EMLM communities from surrounding towns to join in on the cause.

“On Sunday February 12 when we visited Steynsburg, we took the Hofmeyer route so we could brief our members in other towns. On our way back from Hofmeyer, we noticed the same red polo with three males occupants, following us between Steynsburg and Molteno.” Mbengo alleged that they had noticed a firearm and had to turn around. Fearing for their lives, they could not risk travelling alone back to Komani.

“We were then escorted by police vehicles until we arrived in Komani and we reported the matter to the Komani police” said Mbengo.

According to Mbengo, KPA committee members have alerted law enforcement and hope to hear from the police once they have completed their investigations.