NEWS

Protests And Arrests After Zuma Fails To Address Vuwani

The presidency has said Zuma didn't pitch because the meeting 'was mostly composed by those who oppose the new municipality'

08/05/2017 10:07 SAST | Updated 08/05/2017 10:07 SAST
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
A member of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) helps set up a tent to be used as a poling station during tense local municipal elections in Vuwani, South Africa's northern Limpopo province, August 3, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The situation in Vuwani, Limpopo, remains tense after protests broke out following President Jacob Zuma leaving the area without addressing a community meeting on Sunday.

Zuma was in Vuwani to announce government's decision regarding a dispute over the municipal boundary. In 2016, protests over a government decision to incorporate Vuwani into a new municipal area saw more than 24 schools set alight during violent protests.

Last month, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said a decision had been taken and that law and order should "prevail".

But Zuma did not address the meeting as promised on Sunday, angering residents. The meeting reportedly degenerated into chaos when Cooperative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen was booed.

According to Eye Witness News (EWN), four people were arrested for public violence after Zuma had left.

Six cars were damaged, including two belonging to the SABC, EWN reported.

Police spokesperson Motlafela Mojapelo told EWN: "There was a community meeting that was held at the local sports ground. After that, protesters then went on a rampage, damaging vehicles, smashing windows and so on, but the police quickly brought the situation under control and arrested four people."

According to Daily Maverick, residents waited for Zuma for six hours on Sunday while he met with VhaVenda King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana and other community leaders. But Zuma failed to arrive at the Nandoni sports ground where he was scheduled to speak.

Daily Maverick reported that residents chanted Zuma's name and refused to listen to his substitute, Van Rooyen.

The presidency disputed claims that Zuma did not arrive at the meeting because of security claims. Instead, it said Zuma did not arrive because the meeting was not fully representative of the community.

Presidency spokesman Bongani Ngqulunga said:

"President Zuma will go back to the district to address all community members, those who are against the newly established municipality and those who are for. After assessing the situation today, a conclusion was reached that the community meeting was not representative of the whole community affected by the establishment of the new municipality. It was mostly composed by those who oppose the new municipality."