Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma should shoulder the responsibility for the demarcation dispute in Vuwani, Limpopo, that saw the area descending into violent protests and destruction of property, the Congress of the People (Cope) said on Monday.
Zuma’s failure to address the Vuwani residents on Sunday showed “he got cold feet and was scared of the people”, said Cope spokesman Dennis Bloem.
“Zuma and his supporters in the ANC must get the message very loud and clear that the people of this country have lost trust and respect [in the them], that is why they even refused to be addressed by ministers Fikile Mbalula and Des Van Rooyen.
At the very same time, Zuma lost his confidence to address public gatherings…that is the reason he got cold feet when he was expected to address the Vuwani community,” said Bloem.
The Sunday meeting where Zuma was scheduled to give an update on the contentious demarcation issue turned violent after Zuma left the area without addressing the Vuwani residents.
The president had earlier met with Vha Venda king Toni Mphephu and the pro-Makhado task team. Angry residents damaged six vehicles with rocks and overturned mobile toilets at the Nandoni sport field in reaction to Zuma’s decsion not to address them as scheduled.
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Efforts by Van Rooyen to address residents failed as they chanted “Zuma, Zuma..” and demanded to hear from no one else but the president. Van Rooyen, along with Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, State Security Minister David Mahlobo, Minister of Public Service and Administration Faith Muthambi and MP Thoko Didiza had accompanied Zuma to Vuwani.
Zuma’s office said he did not address the residents as the meeting constituted those who were against the inclusion into the new municipality.
“President Zuma will go back to the district to address all community members, those who are against the newly established municipality and those who are for. After assessing the situation today, a conclusion was reached that the community meeting was not representative of the whole community affected by the establishment of the new municipality. It was mostly composed by those who oppose the new municipality,” the Presidency said in a statement on Sunday.
It was agreed that the Vhembe district municipality should provide services to Vuwani while a solution on the demarcation issue was being sought, added the Presidency.
Vuwani, situated outside Thohoyandou, was shut down for months last year with incidents of sporadic violence as residents protested against incorporation into a new municipality by the demarcation board.
The defiant residents wanted Vuwani to remain in Makhado municipality. Last year, as many as 29 schools were either torched or vandalised in Vuwani during demarcation protests.
African News Agency