Grabouw and Villiersdorp protests politically motivated

MEC Theuns Botha

DA Western Cape: Provincial Leader

Recent protests in Grabouw and Villiersdorp (both in the Theewaterskloof municipality) were planned months in advance by an ANC task team established with the objective of reclaiming power in Western Cape councils through any means necessary.

The politics behind these events explains clearly why violence and vandalism continue in these towns despite resolutions being found over a week ago to the alleged reasons for the protests.

The political context behind the protests is as follows:

* An ANC task team is attempting to destabilise the Theewaterskloof municipality and other places where the DA governs.

* The members of the task team are Marius Fransman (ANC Provincial Chairperson), Fezile Calana (ANC Provincial Treasurer) and Advocate Duncan Korabie, an ANC-affiliated legal professional.

* The task team uses the strategy of attempted bribery to persuade DA councillors and coalition partners to sign motions of no-confidence in the council leadership, thus forcing by-elections where the ANC can contest power.

* If negotiations fail, local activists are co-opted to foment violence under the guise of “service delivery protests”.

Affidavits filed at the Caledon police station over a month before the violence in Grabouw and Villiersdorp began, detail how Fransman, Calana and Korabie used a local ANC affiliate called John Michaels to facilitate the attempted bribery of DA councillors.

DA councillors were asked to sign a no-confidence motion in the Theewaterskloof council leadership in exchange for jobs, cash or leadership positions in the council. The ANC would then assume control of the municipality as a result of this action.

Filed on 5 February 2012, the affidavits show how John Michaels threatened DA councillors with an ANC strategy to make their wards ungovernable should the plan to pass a motion of no confidence in the council leadership not succeed.

DA councillor Meki Plato recounts how Michaels revealed plans to stir up protest against her among people living in an informal settlement outside Villiersdorp if she “refuses to come over to the ANC”.

Michaels was referring to people who are occupying private land on Destiny Farm outside the town.

Michaels also said that they did not plan to make an offer to DA councillor Mlulami Tshaka in Grabouw. Instead they would use school children at Umyezo Wama Apile Combined School to “turn his ward upside down”.

Michaels was referring to over-crowding at the school caused by the National Department of Public Works’ continuous delays in approving alternative land to build additional school buildings in the area. This is despite constant pressure from the Western Cape Education Department on Minister Thulas Nxesi, his predecessor and even the President to speed up the process.

Michaels and the ANC have proceeded with the plan, as detailed in the affidavits, to foment violent protest in Grabouw and Villiersdorp. Michaels has been operating in the area under the guise of the Elgin Grabouw Civics Organisation.

Having managed to negotiate the defection of a former DA councillor, Catharine Booysen-Nefdt, the ANC failed to get the required number of signatures to pass a no-confidence motion in the council leadership as originally planned.

The ANC-led unrest in Grabouw was designed to help the ANC win the by-election taking place next week on 28 March.

In the first round of “protests” on 5 March, two classrooms at the Umyezo Wama Apile Combined School were set on fire, a third ransacked, and the school hall vandalised.

In the midst of this, pupils tried to salvage their study records and teachers looked on in disbelief.

Michaels was quoted prominently in the press as the leader of the Grabouw protests, promising that classes would not continue until the Education MEC received the memorandum. As the situation developed, one of the local ANC Councillors, Peter de Wet, became increasingly more prominent as one of the leaders of the protest.

It must be made clear that the violence in Grabouw and Villiersdorp is part of an orchestrated ANC campaign to destabilise DA municipalities; it has nothing to do with so-called “service delivery protests.”

The fact is that both the municipality and the provincial government have concrete plans to resolve the school situation in Grabouw – despite the delays that have been caused by the National Department of Public Works.

By April 10, a full temporary solution to the overcrowding at Umyezo Wama Apile Combined School will be rolled out. Land has been identified for the placement of 18 mobile classrooms to accommodate the additional learners and end the over-crowding.

Regarding the Destiny Farm residents in Villiersdorp, the municipality has budgeted R5 million to purchase the land as soon as possible. A housing development and basic services will be rolled out on this property.

These solutions have been conveyed in full to the residents of Grabouw and Villiersdorp and the vast majority of people are satisfied with the speed that government is acting on this. Solutions, though, are not what a small group of politically motivated people want.

Fomenting violence is more in line with the ANC’s political objectives than peace in the community and genuine delivery solutions to the challenges being faced there.

As ever, the ANC would rather people suffer in poverty than prosper under the DA. But while the ANC tries to break up our communities, the DA will continue in its efforts to build a united province where all can enjoy opportunities to live a better life.

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