More than 5 000 residents from Khutsong Township in the Merafong Municipality marched to the African National Congress (ANC) headquarters, Luthuli House, on 6 June 2008, to protest against government’s plan to incorporate them into the North West province.
Marching under the umbrella of the Merafong Demarcation Forum (MDF), the protesters asked the new ANC leadership to intervene in their fight against being incorporated into the North West.
While community members are strongly against the incorporation, MDF spokesperson, Lebona Mohale, said that the number of people who participated in the march was much less than the MDF had expected.
MDF Chairperson, Jomo Mogale, said the community did not “come to fight the new ANC”. He slammed the current ANC-led government for failing to listen to the people and encourage debate on problems that affect South Africans.
Responding this accusation, ANC Secretary-General, Gwede Mantashe, who was accompanied by ANC National Working Committee members, Jessie Duarte and Fikile Mbalula, urged the protestors to invite the ruling party to come and find ways of addressing their problems.
The marchers made it clear that they do not want President Thabo Mbeki to form any part of the delegation to Khutsong.
The community accused the current ANC leadership in government of pressing ahead with their decision to incorporate Khutsong into the North West, even after they expressed concern over the decision. They criticised Mbeki and the Minister of Provincial and Local Government, Sydney Mufamadi, for remaining silent over the Khutsong issue.
The MDF has argued that the communities’ rights are being violated by the forceful incorporation of Khutsong into another province. During the march, protesters carried placards and wore t-shirts with the following messages:
- Don’t ignore democracy, the downtrodden have voices
Siyahlala eGauteng (We will stay in Gauteng)
Answer now or else!! Xenophobia in Khutsong
Thabo Mbeki go to the people don’t go to Japan
Khutsong, Merafong 100% Gauteng
No Gauteng - no vote
Khutsong says no to the unfair demarcation, away with Mbeki dictatorship
Zuma keep your promises
Moutse for Mpumalanga, not matter what it takes
We are not a drop in the ocean
Only three high schools have not been affected by the protests, says Khutsong resident, Tshediso Makokoe. Makokoe stated that most learners did not write the half-yearly examinations. He condemned what he calls the “corrupt leadership” of the Merafong Municipality for taking the community for granted.
The MDF’s Mogale announced that learners from Khutsong also marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, to hand over a memorandum to Education Minister Naledi Pandor.
In a linked story, the Sowetan newspaper reported that Mogale has called on the Department of Education in the North West to reinstate him and other teachers to their positions. The Department fired them in 2007 for instigating unrest and taking part in the destabilisation of schooling during protests against Khutsong’s incorporation into North West. Mogale has vowed to sue the department if he is not reinstated.
Khutsong residents say their community is united in the fight to remain part of the Gauteng province. The community enjoys the support of the United Democratic Movement, Pan Africanist of Azania, Independent Democrats, South African Communist Party, Young Communist League, as well as NGOs in their fight to remain in Gauteng.
MDF has called on the Minister of Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils and President Mbeki to resign over what they call “poor intelligence” that failed to act on time to prevent the much-reported xenophobic attacks across the country.
The community have given the ANC 10 days to respond to their demands. What are their demands? Please include some of them here. They warned that they will return to the Luthuli House if the ruling party fails to intervene.
Mohale dismissed reports that the MDF and the SACP branch in their area will be mobilising residents to march to the North West Department of Education offices in Carletonville to demand that his expulsion be lifted.
To view the march in pictures, click here.
- Butjwana Seokoma, Information Services Coordinator, SANGONeT