Hundreds protest in city streets in Cape’s toilet war
(Report and photos on 13 June 2013 ANC protest for service delivery in the Western Cape)
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Western Cape ANC leaders yesterday marched to Premier Helen Zille’s provincial government office and accused her of a “war on the poor”.
Hundreds of ANC members and representatives of other organisations gathered in front of the Wale Street building in the city.
They wanted to hand over a memorandum of service delivery grievances to the provincial leader. Zille was however nowhere to be seen.
Provincial ANC leader Marius Fransman, the party’s provincial secretary Songezi Mjongile and ANC Youth League members were among those present. Fransman had to calm protesters who grew angrier as Zille did not show up.
“They want to provoke. Calm down,” said Fransman.
Songezo Mjongile, ANC provincial secretary, led the protesters in chanting slogans, including “Zille does not want to come out and speak to people”.
Mjongile said: “We are going to have a bigger march to bring this city to a standstill so Zille can come to meet the people. She’s deaf and she doesn’t want to listen to the people.”
“We have raised many issues and have seen arrogance and disregard. All that is left is to go to the streets and put pressure on Zille to respond.”
He said the party and its affiliates made the “decision to go on this public gathering two weeks ago”.
“We are ready to take back this province because the Democratic Alliance is failing our people. We will bring this city to a standstill if that’s what it takes for Zille to listen to us,” said Mjongile.
“She has shown complete undermining and disrespect for our people. When dog owners complain she gives them an audience in her boardroom. It is clear that she cares only about the rich.
“We are going forward with mass action. She must expect more of this as long as she does not listen to our demands.”
Other organisations that supported the ANC-led protest included trade union Cosatu, the South African Communist Party and student representatives.
Veteran soldiers from Mkhonto we Sizwe, the ANC’s disbanded military wing, were there to keep the crowd in check.
Lynne Brown, former Western Cape premier, said “all is not well in the province”. Brown is also an ANC national executive committee member.
“The narrative at the moment in this province is that all is well. Six people died during the rainy period (this year). We have to raise these issues,” said Brown.
Grace Daniels, 60, a protester from Malawi informal settlement opposite Bishop Lavis, said she “shit in a paint tin”.
“I don’t have a toilet. It’s inhumane. This is not the freedom I fought for. Helen Zille must give us real houses,” she said.
Ivan Meyer, the Western Cape DA leader, told The New Age yesterday that the ANC “should follow protocol”.
“When anybody delivers a petition to parliament, the rules state that the secretary of parliament must receive petitions and the speaker must study the petition and refer it to the relevant standing committee of parliament,” said Meyer.
“It is against the rules of parliament that a petition must be handed to parliament and not the premier. Do you ever see the President Jacob Zuma receiving a petition when there is a protest at parliament? We will stick to the parliamentary rules that the ANC also voted for.”
Meyer said the provincial government had not received the ANC’s memorandum because they “did not give me the memorandum”. He said the provincial cabinet had tasked him, as MEC for cultural affairs and sport, to collect the memorandum.
The ANC said in its memorandum that the “DA’s ‘pottie pottie’ service delivery and war on the poor”. It referred to the local government’s inability to keep toilets clean in various townships.
It accused the DA-led government of not ensuring sanitation for at least 120,000 people, based on StatsSA findings, in the Western Cape.
“Too many babies die annually of diarrhoea and other diseases due to poor infrastructure. In Khayelitsha alone at least 60 mothers lose their babies every year,” said the ANC.
“Raw sewage flows in township streets and informal settlements as poor maintenance and inadequate services are the order of the day, despite money from national government for municipal infrastructure like pipes and pumps to assist the poor.”