May 10, 2011
ANC roasts mayor over its open-toilets
In a bid to prevent further acute embarrassment, and damage to its election campaign, the ANC yesterday staged a dramatic public relations exercise by beginning to enclose some of the open toilets in Viljoenskroon, in the Free State.
ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema threatened tough action over the failure to enclose the toilets, saying "heads must roll".
The ANC found itself with egg on its face when the Sunday Times this week revealed that the party - which had publicly criticised the DA and dragged it to court over open toilets in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, in Cape Town - had its own open toilets scandal in Rammulotsi.
The ruling party yesterday dispatched heavyweights to the township, just outside Viljoenskroon, on a damage-control mission.
They included Malema, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, Free State Premier Ace Magashule and ANC national executive committee member Tony Yengeni.
Moqhaka executive mayor Mantebu Mokgosi, under whose authority Rammulotsi falls, was hard-pressed to provide answers to Malema, Mbalula and Yengeni when they demanded to be told why the toilets were not enclosed.
At the home of Mantsho Ndesi, whose toilet is unenclosed, Malema asked Mokgosi: "Mayor, what happened?"
To which Mokgosi responded: "We wanted to enclose the whole area, but the money was for toilets and not the structures. In 2006 we requested money from the Development Bank of Southern Africa. We also asked from the province and national government."
Malema, who looked agitated and not satisfied with Mokgosi's answers, then asked: "What did the province say?".
"They haven't responded, but we still have hope that they will respond," said Mokgosi.
But Free State Premier Magashule said he knew nothing of the problem: "I was not aware of the situation. We were here in December and we didn't see anything. EISH!!!
"We are now taking up the matter and we are starting tomorrow. We will assist the council from tomorrow. We have the money."
The Human Rights Commission, which investigated the Rammulotsi open-toilets scandal after it was reported by the DA, said it had completed its investigation and would release its findings soon.
The scandal, which has caught both the ANC and the DA on the back foot, has also seen COPE joining the fray.
COPE provincial leader Dennis Bloem has opened a case against the ANC-run municipality .
During the tour of the township, the ANC's head of election strategy, Mbalula, said he was lost for words.
"We condemn open toilets. It's unnegotiable, inhumane and indefensible; that's why we are here.
"No human being in South Africa should ever live in conditions of this nature; it's beyond words.
As the ANC we say we will wait for no court case; we say these toilets must be enclosed and must be enclosed now."
Malema said that if any councillor were found to have embezzled money meant to enclose the toilets "heads must roll.
"We cannot come here and heads are not rolling. As an ANC councillor, this must never ever cross your mind.
"If you don't have money, don't do it at all. ??????????????
"When we leave here, there must be a way out of these toilets so that people will see that, since the arrival of the ANC, something is happening.
"From tomorrow there will be action."
Yengeni, who is also a member of the ANC's national working committee, said the open-toilets scandal had been discussed by the party leadership on Monday
"There is no excuse; people must take full responsibility."
The ANC leaders spoke to a few residents, some of whose toilets were already being enclosed.
Mbalula and Malema rolled up their sleeves and helped the builders in enclosing the structures.
Later, the ANC team went to the Rammulotsi Community Hall, where a crowd of more than 2000 had gathered to hear them. Mbalula told the crowd that the ANC had swung into action as soon as it heard about the problem.
"We don't analyse issues from ivory towers."
Malema told the cheering crowds: "We are here not to look at the problem but to solve it. We can't treat our people as sub-humans."