ANC ONCE AGAIN REVEALS ITS INTOLERANCE AND CONTEMPT OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSEMBLY FOR THOSE WHO OPPOSE ITS NEOLIBERAL POLICIES
ANC COUNCILLORS AND MEMBERS DISRUPT SECC COMMUNITY MEETING IN EMDENI, SOWETO AND THREATEN ACTIVISTS WITH VIOLENCE IF THEY CONTINUE TO OPPOSE PRE-PAID WATER METERS
CHARGES LAID AGAINST ANC COUNCILLORS IN SOWETO FOR ASSAULTING APF/SECC ACTIVIST - WILL JUSTICE BE CARRIED OUT?
On Sunday (23rd January), the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee (an APF affiliate) held a meeting in the community of Emdeni to mobilise/organise community members against the installation of pre-paid water meters (part of Joburg Water's ongoing Operation Gcin'amanzi throughout Soweto). No sooner had the meeting gotten underway than a group of three local ANC councillors, accompanied by a number of ANC members and a representative of the Mayor's office, burst into the community hall and proceeded to disrupt the gathering. One of the three ANC councillors present (Clr Mmakgotna from Zola, Clr Ramidiro from Naledi and Clr Makhubu from Tladi), Clr Ramidiro, then physically assaulted SECC organiser Bongani Lubisi - who was speaking to the assembled crowd. The rest of the ANC mob repeatedly issued verbal threats to the SECC activists present, telling them that they would be "killed" if they continued to hold such meetings and promising that nothing would stop the installation of pre-paid water meters.
The SECC activists and community members chose not to retaliate and instead ignored the ANC mob and their blatant thuggery. The meeting was hastily concluded and a delegation proceeded to Naledi Police Station, where charges of assault and intimidation against Councillor Ramidiro were laid.
Not surprisingly, the ANC leadership in Gauteng (and nationally) have once again failed to issue any statement denouncing this latest act of political intolerance or take any action against its councillors and members who have engaged in anti-democratic and criminal acts of thuggery and intimidation against community activists and organisations that oppose it neoliberal policies. Equally not surprising, the police have so far failed to act on the formal charges laid, just as they have done in every other instance where the APF and its affiliates have laid such charges against ANC members and councillors. However, when charges have been laid against APF and community activists the police and courts have always acted swiftly, arresting these comrades, imposing outrageous bail amounts and conditions and dragging cases out for months in the courts.
It is high time that the ANC be held accountable, both publicly and in the courts, for the anti-democratic and criminal actions of its councillors and members. Why is the ANC allowed to get away with waxing lyrical about its democratic 'pedigree' and commitment whilst its elected representatives and members carry out repeated assaults on basic democratic rights? Why is there a deafening silence over such double-standards when they are applied in/against the poorest communities in South Africa and when they involve those political/community activists who vigorously expose and oppose the ANC's socio-economic policies?
The APF and its community affiliates have said before that we will not be intimidated and cowed into silence simply because the ANC wants to play political bully boy and remains dangerously insecure about effective and vocal grassroots opposition to its policies. As long as anti-poor and inhumane neoliberal policies continue to be implemented, so too will we continue to speak out, organise and fight such policies and those who pursue them whilst building the seeds of popular, grassroots and anti-capitalist democracy.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION/COMMENT CONTACT:
Bongani Lubisi on 072 054-6883 or (011)938-4305
Dale McKinley on 072 429-4086