The ANC has been accused of being behind the upsurge in violent “rolling mass action” protests across Gauteng – as a way of attacking the DA in metros where the ANC has lost power.
As protesters fought running battles with police in Tshwane yesterday – on the back of a week of similar protest around the province – John Moodey, DA leader in Gauteng, accused the ANC of being “violent and destructive” and said “it’s time the ANC accepts they have lost the election”.
He added: “The people have rejected the ANC and it’s time for them to let the DA get on with the business of change.”
Moodey said the ANC had “ mobilised” in Soshanguve and “began assaulting community members who wanted to hear the DA’s message of change”.
“Metro police officers were also assaulted with bottles during the violent attack.”
Political analyst Andre Duvenhage said the increase in violent service delivery protests was seen in areas controlled by the DA and it appeared to have been fuelled and instigated by some in the ANC.
While many protests have been about genuine service delivery issues, others have been instigated by disgruntled ANC members, he charged.
“There is an anti-system in the ANC that is fighting, because it is no longer controlling certain big metros and, through protests, they are resorting to a struggle strategy, while the DA is busy taking drastic steps in fighting corruption,” said Duvenhage.
“While there is currently a lot of instability in the economy and socially, there are also people who are positioning themselves ahead of the ANC’s elective conference in December.”
Asked if there was a regime change fight playing itself out on the streets through the protests, Duvenhage said although a lot of people were unhappy, wanting nothing but radical change, politics was still a major force behind the protests that had been witnessed – mainly in Gauteng.
But Nomfundo Mogapi, senior researcher at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, believes the violent protests are just a sign of angry citizens who have been left frustrated for a very long time.
“The protesters are now putting a message across to government, saying we have waited long enough. They believe the only language government understands is violence,” Mogapi said.
Thabo Masebe, spokesperson for the Gauteng provincial government, said whenever people raised issues, government had always addressed them. But people should respect the rights of others whenever they embarked on protests.
“We are concerned about the violence that has marred the protests. We don’t want to comment on whether there is politics involved in the protests,” Masebe said.
Karen Heese from Municipal IQ, a company specialising in the monitoring of local government, said there had been a peak in the protests since May.
“There has also been a lot of violence. There is a sense that the protests are increasingly becoming tense.
“The protests are also lasting longer – for days on end,” said Heese.
“Currently, we are seeing between one and three protests happening daily, with 90% of them being violent.”
This week alone, police officers have responded to community protests every day. Crime intelligence sources told The Citizen there wasn’t any information that suggested coordination of the protests.
“That doesn’t mean this information won’t change,” one said. – firstname.lastname@example.org