News / South Africa

Alex Japho Matlala
3 minute read
5 Sep 2017
5:15 am

Vuwani teeters on the brink again

Alex Japho Matlala

The area came to a standstill yesterday as schools and businesses were closed due to protests.

Vuwani protests from August 2016. Photo: Supplied

Incensed residents of Vuwani have accused President Jacob Zuma and Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha of failing to honour their promises about improved service delivery in the area.

Barricading streets, residents gathered to sing songs and chant anti-Zuma and anti-ANC slogans. The area came to a standstill as schools and businesses closed. There were no reports of violence, although police were monitoring the situation.

The latest protest came after the Limpopo provincial government allegedly failed to implement the decision taken by Zuma, Mathabatha and VhaVenda King Mphephu Ramabulana when the president visited the chaotic Vuwani area on May 7.

Part of the decision was that the Vhembe district municipality should be responsible for the delivery of basic and other services to communities around Vuwani, instead of the Lim 345 local municipality.

Humbulani Mulaudzi of Vuwani accused politicians of “lying through their teeth” just to get the attention of voters.

She added: “Suffering has been our daily bread here. We wake up early in the morning to get water from a communal tap some 2 to 3km away, instead of getting water on our doorstep, as promised.

“As if that is not enough, our roads resemble the aftermath of the war in Afghanistan. Moreover, only one of the more than 200 schools that were burnt and destroyed during the demarcation standoff, is being renovated.”

Mulaudzi claimed women and children had been raped while walking long distances to fetch firewood, while others were attacked walking in the dark, to either go to work or to government facilities such as clinics.

“What have we done to suffer like this?” she asked.

Spokesperson for the disgruntled residents Alex Ramashau said Zuma had agreed in principle with the local leadership, including the Pro-Makhado Task Team and King Ramabulana, that all services would come from the Vhembe district municipality.

“But we are still perplexed that none of the promises had been implemented. We have begun to doubt if the decision taken during the meeting was not just a charade,” he said.

Ramashau said that to make the government take them seriously, the community decided to take to the streets and call for a total shutdown of services.

“We want our children to learn and become better people. We want our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers to go to work so that they could be able to put bread on the table. But we have agreed the strike would go on until government gives us a hearing.”

The Limpopo provincial government said yesterday the Vuwani community was being impossible.

“They have rejected a R52 million project to build and maintain roads in and around Vuwani, simply because the project was to be implemented by the local municipality,” said Limpopo provincial government spokesperson Phuti Seloba yesterday.

“We have already graded some of the roads in the area,” Seloba said.

“Water and electricity [are] also being prioritised. But instead of giving us gratitude, they give us attitude and the people at the receiving end are pupils, who should be going to school.”

The trouble in Vuwani started two years ago after residents refused to be moved from Makhado and be incorporated into a new municipality, Lim 345. –