The following statement was delivered today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a press conference on Constitution Hill in Johannesburg. Maimane was joined by Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba, Tshwane Mayor, Stevens Mokgalapa, Midvaal Mayor, Bongani Baloyi, Modimolle-Mookgophong Mayor, Marlene Van Staden, City of Cape Town MMC for Safety and Security, JP Smith, DA Gauteng Premier Candidate, Solly Msimanga, and DA Gauteng Leader, John Moodey.
With just 24 days to go until the defining 2019 National and Provincial Elections, we gather here today at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg to urgently address a matter of national importance that threatens the very founding values of our democracy.
I am joined by DA mayors, senior party leaders, and representatives from DA governments, to seek immediate intervention in what can only be described as a malicious and calculated attempt by the ANC to render DA-run cities ungovernable in the lead up to the election, and to shift attention away from its failure as national government over the past 25 years.
The reality is that millions of South Africans live in communities that have seen little or no change since the dawn of democracy. Our painful history still lives with us and after 25 years of ANC rule, many South Africans live without basic services. This is because the ANC government is one of self-enrichment rather than building infrastructure in poor communities.
It appears that the likelihood of the party losing power in key parts of the country on 8 May has now firmly panicked the ANC, as it has now resorted to desperate and dangerous so-called “shutdown” protests in DA-run governments spanning over the past two weeks. While these violent protests were intended to appear as organic and community-driven, it has become embarrassingly evident that the protests have been initiated and sustained by the ANC.
Beginning in Alexandra, Johannesburg on 3 April, the “shutdowns” have spread to other DA-run governments. These include:
- Ga-Rankuwa, Mabopane, Pretoria West, Soshanguve, Winterveld, and Hammanskraal in the City of Tshwane;
- Orange Grove and Pennyville, Soweto in the City of Johannesburg;
- Khayelitsha, Lwandle and Happy Valley, Blackheath in the City of Cape Town; and
- Caledon in the Theewaterskloof Municipality in the Western Cape.
There remain threats of further “shutdown” protests, with the Johannesburg Inner City allegedly planned for tomorrow, Monday 15 April, as well as rumours of an impending Soweto Shutdown later this week.
This cheap, dangerous politicking is not being carried out by a few rogue elements in the ANC. It is the party’s election campaign strategy, endorsed and approved by President Cyril Ramaphosa himself. This is evidenced by his decision to go to Alex – the epicentre of these violent protests – to campaign in ANC colours, to publicly approve the shutdown and attempt to blame Mayor Herman Mashaba for the service delivery failures of the ANC over the past 25 years.
At the very core of a democracy such as ours is the possibility of a peaceful transition of power from one party to another through the ballot box. It appears the ANC is not willing to allow this to happen, stooping to new lows in an attempt to maintain their grip on power.
This is not only limited to violent “shutdowns” but has also extended to other underhand means in order to undermine the will of the electorate in the DA-led Modimolle-Mookgophong Municipality in Limpopo.
In November 2018 the Limpopo Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) signalled their intention to dissolve the Modimolle-Mookgophong council in terms of section 139(1)(c) of the Constitution which would trigger a municipal-wide election. This section allows the PEC to dissolve a council in “exceptional circumstances”.
The decision by the PEC was taken only a month after the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) approved the PEC’s section 139(1)(b) intervention at the municipality. The PEC had also approved the municipality’s financial recovery plan in early November 2018.
The PEC cited slow progress in the municipality, a failure to hold the required amount of council and executive committee meetings and a failure to execute its financial obligations as some of the reasons for its decision. When in fact, the DA-led government has been working hard to stop corruption, improve the finances and accelerate service delivery after years of neglect by the ANC.
Following the receipt of the PEC’s letters, Council gave Mayor Van Staden permission to appoint legal counsel to fight the dissolution. The Mayor then sent a letter to MEC Jerry Ndou outlining her responses to each of the “exceptional circumstances” listed by the Provincial Government. The letter argues that invoking section 139(1)(c) would be irrational and unlawful.
We are of the view that this amounts to blatant and unwarranted political interference by the ANC to undermine the current administration and to wrangle back power in order to continue looting the people’s resources. We reject this and will fight it on all fronts.
As a party that governs for 16 million South Africans across over 30 governments, we would be in dereliction of our constitutional duties if we failed to act now on behalf of current and future generations of South Africans. We will not sit back and watch the ANC erode the very values that were sacrificially fought for.
As Leader of the DA, I have therefore decided to take the following immediate action.
Firstly, I will again approach the National Police Commissioner, General Khehla Sitole, requesting an urgent face-to-face meeting in the next 48 hours to establish what plans are in place to put an end to this violence and to restore law and order in our communities. Earlier this week I requested a meeting with General Sitole, who committed to meet on 29 April 2019. This is not good enough. We need urgent intervention and 29 April may be too late. The SAPS must immediately institute a plan to halt the ANCs objective of inciting violence and turning our communities into warzones and will address this head-on when I meet with General Sitole.
Secondly, on the back of the DA’s formal complaint lodged with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) over the “shutdown” protests, I will formally request to meet with the IEC Chairperson, Mr Glen Mashinini, to:
- Seek an update on this complaint and, if required, request the investigation to be fast-tracked to ensure we get to the bottom of this threat well before election day on 8 May; and
- Seek reassurance that the elections will go ahead on 8 May.
Finally, we believe Parliament has a vital role to play in getting to the bottom of this orchestrated anarchy. As such, we will write the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, requesting the urgent establishment of an Ad Hoc Joint Committee on consisting of the Portfolio Committees on Police, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, and Home Affairs to use its legislative power to consider this matter in its entirety. Parliament must use its powers to summon all involved.
While the ANC – and President Ramaphosa – continue to place their own narrow political interests ahead of the country’s collective interest, South Africans are rejecting the party in their numbers in search of real change. The ANC knows this and President Ramaphosa knows this. They are panicking and frightened and are making a grave error in thinking South Africans will not punish them for spearheading these violent protests.
South Africans face a clear choice at the ballot box on 8 May – a choice between more violence and chaos from the ANC, or the DA’s agenda to bring change that restores order and builds One South Africa For All.