Pretoria – Plotters against the DA government in the city have hatched a plan to disrupt Thursday’s ordinary sitting of the Tshwane Metropolitan Council, mayor Solly Msimanga has exclusively told the Pretoria News.
Msimanga said he was privy to information of a protest aimed at disrupting the council by workers contracted to the city’s expanded public works programme, also known as operation Vat Alles.
The news of the planned protests had been elevated to Premier David Makhura and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Paul Mashatile, Msimanga said.
The mayor said groups of the informal workers met in Hammanskraal and Pretoria West, where Vat Alles staffers were evidently told that Msimanga was going to fire them. They were urged to go and trash the city on the day of the next council meeting.
He said some of the protesters who had been organised to march and disrupt the council last month had no idea why they were there.
People had been distributing Vat Alles uniforms to be worn by workers when they trash the city under the guise of demanding to be employed permanently, he said.
Msimanga claimed there was a group within the faction that didn’t agree with the sentiment and questioned why they should revolt against him, the DA mayor, while it was in fact the ANC administration that failed to employ them for the past five years.
“One of the lies peddled out there was I am going to fire black people,” he said.
During last month’s meeting, the city’s council chamber at Sammy Marks resembled a mini battlefield when ANC councillors clashed with the metro police.
The city police had been called to remove an ANC councillor who was considered to be disruptive, but were met with missiles from the party’s members. A group of protesters also wanted to storm into the council and had an altercation with the metro police. A glass door was broken during the chaos.
A day after last month’s council meeting, Msimanga met different political party leaders and Mashatile.
“And it was unbelievable how people would like to deny what happened even when they were caught on camera throwing bottles and chairs,” the mayor said.
Msimanga said had been warned by former City of Cape Town mayor and erstwhile DA leader Helen Zille to expect chaos for at least a year after the DA wrested control of the capital city from the ANC.
Msimanga said he expected the protests to take place at every council sitting initially. “You can expect that for the coming three months we will still have people coming to the council to make sure that its proceedings are interrupted.”
Those behind the attacks hoped the city would be dysfunctional and put under administration, he said. But the city would not lose sight of its obligations and would try by all means to communicate its plans for communities, he said.
Similar tactics orchestrated to disrupt the council were used after the DA took over the City of Cape Town, Msimanga said.
“Helen Zille told me of chaotic scenes that unfolded in the Mother City when she was first elected mayor there. Zille informed me the premeditated disruptions of the council lasted for a year,” Msimanga said.
“It only stopped when the people who bankrolled the protests ran out of the means to do so. Helen Zille said that it was when the taps began to run dry that the detractors were not able to fund the disruptive activities.”
Msimanga warned against celebrating that a certain party was making the city’s administration uneasy.
He said such behaviour could result in some people elsewhere imitating the anarchy that was prevailing in the capital.
Anarchy should not be allowed to be the order of the day, Msimanga said. “Even if people want to protest, they should do so in a peaceful manner with the end-goal being to find a solution,” he said.
The ongoing protests could potentially discourage investors from coming in the city.
Msimanga appealed to political leaders to remember that people expected them to come out with solutions to their problems.
“If you are having this thing happening all the time, this is going to start to send a negative message to the people.
“Our capital city is supposed to function so that the whole of South Africa can function.”