Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba accused the African National Congress (ANC) of orchestrating an attack against the country’s democracy after violence flared up during a meeting of the city council on Thursday.
In a statement issued by his office, Mashaba said the attack was perpetrated by a front organisation of the ruling party, known as the Johannesburg Social Movement (JSM), over his administration’s decision to cancel the controversial Jozi@work programme.
“Today the ANC staged an orchestrated attack on our democracy under the auspices of their front organisation‚ the Johannesburg Social Movement (JSM). This was a blatant attempt to prevent Council from passing the adjustment budget and bringing change to the residents of Joburg,” he said.
Joburg metro police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades when the group of protesters stormed Johannesburg’s Council Chambers in Braamfontein early on Thursday, resulting in damage to city property.
The mayor has condemned the violence and said the protest was squarely aimed at preventing the DA-led administration from tabling the adjustment budget for the 2016/17 financial year.
He said the City would not be deterred by the violence.
“Those responsible for the violence and damage to City property today [Thursday] must be held accountable, and I will be laying criminal charges at the Joburg Central Police Station tomorrow [Friday] morning.”
Mashaba said the JSM was permitted to march to the city council building with only 300 people. However, about 1 000 protesters arrived who were apparently addressed by ANC councillors before the chaos ensued.
“The blame must be put squarely at the feet of the ANC who assisted the protesters in storming the Council Chamber and threatening the lives of councillors and City employees alike.
“Notably‚ many ANC councillors arrived today in yellow jackets for the first time‚ similar to those worn by the protesters and could clearly be used as a means to distinguish between ANC councillors and all other councillors whose lives were placed at risk,” Mashaba said.
“Today’s incident is an assault on our democracy, and it is clear that the ANC do not accept the outcomes of the free and fair elections last year. The ANC is a shadow of its former self, and it’s no wonder that they were rejected by the voters of this city.
“… This adjustment budget is a vitally important first step in ending the rot and patronage that was seen under the ANC in Joburg.”