By Juanita Terblanche (MP), DA Constituency Head, Tlokwe Municipality,Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp:
The Democratic Alliance in North West condemns the looting of buildings and violence during protests that escalated this weekend.
The vandalism and arson of the Venterdorp Local Municipal buildings last night is a horrible result of the ANC government’s neglect and contempt for resident’s views, which are opposed to the merger of Tlokwe Municipality and Ventersdorp Municipality,
The ANC government and the Demarcation Board have long given up listening to Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp residents who clearly fear the amalgamation but have no say in this critical decision. Participatory democracy and the values of people-centred government have been destroyed by the ANC in the North West.
The DA is concerned that the Tlokwe Municipality/Ventersdorp merger shows signs of mimicking the Khutsong and Matateile cross-border protests, where the government only really listened to grievances after resident had to turn violent to stop it. Today the ANC forces communities to turn violent before government listens.
The ANC cannot shift the blame for the Ventersdorp violence to anyone but themselves. The DA is opposing this merger in the High Court, but never through violence on the streets.
The ANC’s disregard for community voices and reckless comments by ANC officials is what sparked this turmoil.
The violence started after comments from the ANC Provincial Secretary Dakota Legoete, who during a radio debate with the DA on Thursday evening about the amalgamation, said “people can march, do whatever they want to – it will not bring them anything, it will not change the ANC’s viewpoint”.
These words were the last straw for an ignored community and they sparked protests and disruptions currently ongoing in Ikageng, Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp.
In a fair society the DA government would have taken the community views as paramount and would have given a fair hearing to the community most affected.
We sympathize with residents who are ignored by the ANC who wants to push the merger through before the 2016 elections. They know their days as the governing party in the Tlokwe Municipality are numbered.
It is not in the nature of the DA to participate in destructive protests and we will continue to fight the amalgamation in Court.
The DA will bring this case before the High Court in Pretoria on 29 September 2015