April 8 2011
Police opened fire with rubber bullets and two men were arrested on charges of public violence after a group of angry Nyanga residents took to the streets to issue the ANC with a warning: withdraw the ward candidate the party has named for the area, or they’ll vote for the DA.
Residents of ward 37 in Nyanga insist that the ANC has named the “wrong” candidate for ward councillor and some are threatening to punish the party at the polls by voting for the DA.
Others say they don’t want to have to vote for the DA, because they remain loyal ANC supporters, but they are angry with how the ANC has handled the selection of its councillor for the ward, which covers the areas of Nyanga east of Abonwabisi and E Mjodo, west of Zwelitsha and south of Sithandatu streets.
Last year, the ANC lost a key ward in one of its traditional strongholds to the DA - ward 44, which covers part of Gugulethu and Heideveld.
The Western Cape ANC has admitted that it is aware of the problem in ward 37, and its provincial secretary, Songezo Mjongile, told the Cape Argus today that similar scenarios were playing out in wards across the province.
But the party is blaming those who lost out on being nominated as ward councillors for organising the protests.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut said about 200 people had barricaded Zwelitsha Drive yesterday evening.
The people had thrown stones at police vehicles patrolling the area, Traut said.
“Police were duty bound to take action and rubber bullets were fired to disperse the crowd, who posed a threat to the community.”
Two men, aged 21 and 25, had been arrested on a charge of public violence and were due to appear in court today, he said.
No injuries were reported.
The majority of the protesters had dispersed by late last night, and a police Nyala and several smaller police vehicles were guarding the intersection, which was strewn with rubbish, stones and still-smouldering tyres.
A number of power-line poles had been uprooted.
About 30 residents marched to the Nyanga police station at about 9pm to in an unsuccessful bid to negotiate the release of the two men who had been arrested for public violence.
Outside the police station, the group explained that the trouble in ward 37 had started last month when the ANC had presented them with four ward councillor candidates.
The residents explained that they had favoured two candidates - Lindiwe Batsela and Mxeke Templeton - and were shocked when they heard days later that Mzimasi Mansali had been chosen.
Resident Amos Sigadi said the community was unhappy.
“They surprised us when the results came out - it was the wrong person,” said Sigadi.
Since then, he said, residents had held meetings with ANC leaders in an attempt to overturn Mansali’s selection.
Another resident, Minky Bacela, said they had decided to give ANC members an ultimatum at a meeting yesterday: if the candidate was not changed, they would vote for the DA.
“That was the outcome of the meeting,” she said
The residents did not want to have to vote for the DA, Bacela said. “We don’t support the DA. We still support the ANC, but we want the right ANC candidate.”
Provincial secretary Mjongile said there were similar situations in other parts of the Western Cape. The party was having regular meetings with the residents of ward 37, he said.
“There is a process. We are engaged with people in various areas where there is unhappiness about the selection.
“But we have noted that it is the people who lost who are largely behind these protests.
“They mobilise sections of the wards. And this is not unique to ward 37.”Mjongile said the registration process for candidates was closed, and the candidates had been selected using “democratic ANC structures”.