Protesters learned that violence gets government to act

African News Agency

Protesters learned that violence gets government to act
Zandspruit protest. Photo Mike Venter.

PRORESTS – The violent tactics and demands used by protesting Vuwani residents opposed incorporation of their area under new Limpopo’s new municipality, were not foreign in South Africa, political analyst Lesiba Teffo said on Monday.

Police said 21 protesters, including four minors, have been arrested after at least 19 schools were burnt and four others damaged as during last week’s violent protests in which roads were barricaded and passing cars stoned. Protesters also engaged in running battles with police officer who resorted to using tear gas.

Education teams sent in to assess the damages to the schools on Monday said they have not been able to carry out their task owing to resistance from the community.

Teffo said over the years, disgruntled citizens have come to believe that violence and political pressure were likely to get the government’s attention and there was a greater chance their demands would be met.

In an exclusive interview with the African News Agency (ANA), Teffo suggested that the government consider engaging residents with a view of finding a lasting political solution to end the protests, which has left some 26,000 learners unable to attend school.

He said there is a precedent in other areas where government engaged ordinary community members. Teffo also said a court decision could be altered where there is an agreed “political solution”.

Residents took to the streets last week after losing a high court battle to have the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) decision to incorporate their area under the planned Malamulele municipality.

African National Congress (ANC) provincial spokesman Aluwani Netsianda earlier on Monday said that South Africa has a constitutional democracy where the rule of law reigns supreme and urged dissatisfied residents to again approach the court.

Teffo said it might not be easy to persuade residents to respect the court’s decision when they were aware that some of the political elite did not always respect court orders.

Residents opposed the MDB’s decision claim they were not properly consulted and insist that when they were invited to a public hearing on this matter they were not informed their area was earmarked to fall under the new municipality.

MDB’s consultation invitation to a meeting called to dis-establish Mutale in the far north did not mention anything about forming a new municipality.

For several hours on Monday, school-going children were seen lingering in the streets of Vuwani. Transport services can no longer reach all areas leaving many workers with no option but to walk long distances. Shops and businesses in the area remain shut.

Police said the area was still dangerous in the night because protesters often returned to the streets under cover of the darkness to barricade streets. Protesters also became emboldened in the dark to the point of engaging in running battles with the police.

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SOURCEAfrican News Agency