By-elections briefly disrupted in Port Elizabeth
Protesters demand electrification of informal settlements
About 200 residents of Motherwell, Port Elizabeth took to the streets on Wednesday at 8am and protested into the afternoon.
They demanded the electrification of their shacks. They blocked major routes leading to the township and taxis had to take the Swartkops route as there were fires on Addo Road. Heaps of rubble, including mattresses and sewer pipes were strewn around the streets.
The residents, who came from Nomakanjani, Wells Estate, Shukushukuma, Emahlabathini and other informal settlements, marched to Ncedo Secondary School, which is one of the five voting stations in NU12 in ward 55.
By-elections for ward 55, following the death of ANC Councillor Mzuvukile Boti, were underway.
The UDM, EFF and Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party were contesting to win the ward from the incumbent ANC.
Voters stared wide-eyed at the protesters.
“Shoot us!” a resident shouted as the police started to arrive in vans.
“No one is going to vote here!” said a protester.
Voters leant against walls in yards opposite the voting station and waited.
An IEC banner was ripped down by an angry protester. “When we vote the gates are open, but when we demand services, the gates are closed!”
The protesters then marched to a nearby municipal office where Mayco Member for Infrastructure and Engineering Andile Lungisa was meeting with other ANC leaders. (The office used to be occupied by Boti.)
Lungisa came out flanked by his bodyguards. “Last week on Tuesday, we met all the committees of informal settlements to discuss the electrification issue and all the wand councillors of Motherwell were there. The meeting was held in ward 54,” he told the crowd.
“We agreed that we as the government, we will commit ourselves in black and white within seven days … to electrify all the informal settlements.”
“Now we are shocked that there is a protest, whilst seven days will end tomorrow [Thursday].”
Residents flew into a rage and shouted: “Don’t lie. Seven days was yesterday! We want that written document of a commitment now!”
Lungisa said three people from each informal settlement in the metro had been called to the City Hall on Tuesday [4 February] to be trained to do social surveying in the informal settlements.
“Human Settlements has certain steps to follow. We must know the electricity box owners, house number, hence we asked you to give us three people from all [informal settlements],” said Lungisa.
Resident Asanda Vazi said: “We did go to the City Hall where we were told we will undergo social survey training.” He alleged that an official tried to enlist them to pacify the community which they refused to do. “We don’t want to be sell-outs,” Vazi said.
Resident Nosisa Mbhixo confronted Lungisa: “The Councillors of the ANC say when we burn tyres they take it personally. They don’t want to set foot in wards. It’s their fires that are burning and they must come and put it out.”
IEC spokesperson Crossby Bacela said, “We would like to warn people not to fiddle with IEC materials as we had nothing to do with their greivances. The elections went well so far.”
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