Thousands of members of civil society groups marched through the city centre yesterday to express their support for Nelson Mandela Bay municipality’s mayor Zanoxolo Wayile, following a concerted effort by Regional Executive Chairman, Nceba Faku to have the mayor ousted.
The group of around 3,000 people began their march from Nangoza Jebe Hall in New Brighton at around 11am and walked the 10km to City Hall, armed with knobkerries and sticks, in what police described as a very peaceful march with no incidents reported.
The march, organised and supported by Cosatu, the Young Communist League, ANC Youth League, ANC Women’s League and several ANC branches as well as Sangoco, Civic, Idamasa, NMB Traditional Healers, Samva and others, said they were calling on civil society and the entire community of Nelson Mandela Bay to condemn and resist the opportunistic, factional and political bickering that was compromising the social and economic development of the municipality.
They called for the immediate disbanding of the Regional Executive Committee of the ANC, to be replaced by a delegation from the ANC’s national offices, with the launching of a formal inquiry into the abduction of the mayor and his staff.
This follows after a meeting last week where Wayile and his team were temporarily detained after a meeting with Faku and ANC National Disciplinary Chair, Derek Hanekom, where demands were apparently made that Wayile resign.
Wayile, his deputy Nancy Sihlwayi, speaker Maria Hermans and chief whip Feziwe Sibeko had a meeting with regional and provincial ANC leaders, led by secretary Oscar Mabuyane and deputy chairman Gugile Nkwinti, at Florence Matomela House yesterday. At yesterday’s meeting, Mabuyane and Nkwinti were widely expected to tell Wayile and his executive that the party had decided to fire them but this did not materialise.
The Herald reported this morning that Mabuyane, however, dismissed the marchers’ demands, saying by calling for the disbanding of the regional leadership, they were “confused, anti-ANC and anti-Cosatu”.
“People who understand these organisations would not take their grievances to the streets, they would go through proper structures to address them,” Mabuyane told The Herald.
When the crowd arrived in Govan Mbeki avenue, they first stopped at the ANC offices, where they demanded that Faku address them, but he did not. They then proceeded to City Hall, where they were met by Wayile, Hermans, Sihlwayi and Sibeko.
In addressing the crowds, Wayile said there were individuals within the ANC who were manipulating people for their own personal gain, and pleaded with the crowds that had gathered not to let themselves be bought.
“The people are the custodians, individuals come and go, but the masses remain,” he said.
Wayile admitted that there were legitimate service delivery issues within the city, but called on the people to be patient and to use the right channels to get their grievances addressed.
“There are people who will use this [for their own gain] who take it as a tactic to rob the poor people,” he said.
Wayile further urged people not to turn on their councilors, following a number of incidents where offices of councilors were being set alight.
“These people are there to help you, do not make them run away,” he said.
Addressing the group, ANC councillor Scrummy Mtwa said if the REC and PEC wanted to mess with “brother [Wayile] and his three sisters, there’ll be a Marikana in this city”.“Giraffe and his dogs are going to go out. In the newspapers, he [Faku] is saying we will get Wayile, but next time he will say ‘I am going down’,” Mtwa said.
Faku earlier this week was reported to have said that he would never back down in his quest to have Wayile and his team removed because they were “incompetent”.
Cosatu regional secretary Armstrong Poswa said: “We will carry on with mass action until we get what we want. This is a hot topic and it doesn’t need cowards.
“We don’t want thieves, we will beat them.”
Cosatu Uitenhage Secretary, Vuyani Sengeni read out and handed over their memorandum to Hermans, who said she accepted the memorandum on behalf of the leadership.
“For a long time now, well before the May 2011 local government elections, the REC – especially its chairperson – have persistently sought to make it impossible for the ANC government of the metro to function so that they could then remove the mayor and install their own puppets,” said the memorandum.
“The unfounded allegation that the deployees have been acting outside of the mandate of the ANC is just that.
“Only a very blind and politically illiterate person would confuse the personal power aspirations of the chairperson of the region with the legitimate mandate of the ANC,” it said.
The complete list of demands were that:
- The ANC national leadership must disband the REC;
- A task team must be set up to take over the running of the region’s ANC office;
- Mayor Zanoxolo Wayile and the troika must be given space to govern and appoint a municipal manager and executive directors urgently;
- The relationship between the ANC leadership and the deployees in the municipality must be defined;
- There must be a focused and visible response to the poor communities who have had to bear the brunt of the political infighting;
- Measures to address demands for housing, water, electricity, sanitation and jobs should be publicised;
- The ANC task team should provide political education for the public; and
- A proper inquiry should be held into the hostage situation involving Wayile and the troika.