The police had to use rubber bullets as PRET members began blocking an EFF march in the area.
The Practical Radical Economic Transformation group of Mpumalanga may also be engaged in a fight for economic freedom for the majority of black South Africans but they are not friends with the Economic Freedom Fighters.
Thursday this week the group stood in the way of EFF members who were marching to the eMalahleni municipality to submit a memorandum of demands to mayor Linah Malatjie.
Led by provincial leader Collen Sedibe, the EFF headed to the municipality in order to complain about lack of service delivery, alleged corruption and nepotism when they met PRET members who were singing struggle songs on the street of the municipality and waiting for them.
“They will not pass here and go to the municipality. Let them go back,” one PRET member was heard shouting as the EFF approached and both groups began to mix in a confrontational way.
Cops had to intervene and form a human shield between both groups but when they could not be able to control the violent PRET group they began using rubber bullets, firing hard at PRET members.
Some PRET members during the stand-off with police.
The EFF had applied from authorities in order to stage the march to the eMalahleni municipality and the PRET gathering in front of the municipality building was illegal, one cop told the 013NEWS reporter.
PRET members began throwing stones back at cops, forcing CBD shops to close down as cops chased them with rubber bullets.
A vehicle from Weng Family Supermarket was torched by PRET members.
It is still not clear why the PRET members were disrupting the EFF march but one PRET member said the EFF were “coming late in order to take things from us”.
“There are a lot of issues we have been fighting for in this area and where was the EFF?” he said, “we are closer to achieve on those issues and the EFF is coming to hijack the issues,” he claimed.
Clad in their trademark yellow t-shirts bearing the face of president Cyril Ramaphosa, members of the group said they were there to “defend the municipality”.
Prior to their march, the EFF went to Dingindoda on Wednesday evening and told the tenants that they would help them in the fight between eMalahleni Housing Company boss George Xaba and businessman Themba ‘Masofa’ Sgudla who is also the leader of PRET.
The power-cuts will affect a lot of areas in the area.
Power utility Eskom has announced it will begin rolling out load-shedding in the eMalahleni area.
These are called “emergency load-shedding”.
Friday last week Eskom said ten of its power stations have critically low stockpiles – with 5 having less than 10 days worth of fuel.
The load-shedding is also due to deteriorating power plants “but also to unplanned events”, such as the explosion at Lethabo power station in the Free State in early October 2018, which took the whole unit out of service.
Eskom said it needs more than 4-million tons to fill up coal supplies at 10 of its power stations. It said more than 1 million tons have already been secured.
She announced a “financial recovery plan” is being implemented.
Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni has announced that 5 municipalities will be placed under financial rescue.
Mtshweni spoke in Skukuza during her government’s Lekgotla.
She said eMalahleni, Govan Mbeki, Thaba Chweu, Lekwa and Msukaligwa local municipalities have all been placed under a financial rescue plan.
She said as government they area “acutely aware” of the challenges that the Mpumalanga municipalities face.
“As you are aware, we have had to recently intervene in the Emalahleni local municipality in accordance with section 139 of the Municipal Finance Management Act,” she said this week.
“A task team led by provincial treasury and encompassing specialists in every element of the financial management ecosystem has been dispatched to the municipality and are currently working tirelessly to develop and implement a financial recovery plan,” Mtshweni said.
She added this was an effort to ensure that “we collectively address the issues of financial mismanagement” in municipalities as this was affecting service delivery.
She spoke at the Skukuza rest camp during a 3-day provincial government Lekgotla.
Mtshweni told government officials that a Lekgotla was meant to convene officials “in order to ensure that we centrally coordinate the programmes of our government in an effort to ensure that the programmes of the government are concomitant with priority areas aimed at tackling the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality whilst ensuring that our people continue to have access to the most basic of services”.
“The objective of this Lekgotla is two-fold. The first being that we must ensure thatÂ we continue to align intergovernmental relations with the priority areas outlined above. Secondly, it is important to take cognisance of the fact that we must outline and collate our achievements , as Government, as we approach the end of this 5th democratically elected administration,” the Premier said.
He was part of four workers who had come to fix leaking pipes in one of the informal settlements in the area when a bullet was fired at him.
eMalahleni mayor Lindiwe Ntshalintshali has condemned the killing of a municipal worker, saying attacking an employee of the state is the same as attacking the state.
The worker died in hospital on Monday this week.
Ntshalintshali’s office said the worker was one of four who had been sent to go fix a leaking water pipe in the eMalahleni informal settlement of Coronation on Sunday when a man pulled out a gun and shot at him.
The worker went to fetch a log which was lying nearby when one of the community member took out the gun and fire a bullet at him. He died later at hospital.
Cops swooped on and arrested the gunman.
“We will withdraw municipal employees if communities cannot guarantee their safety,” the mayor said.
“We cannot dispatch our employees to be attacked, harassed and killed by the same community they trying to assist. An attack on any government employee executing his or her duties is an attack on the state,” Ntshalintshali said.
It is still not clear whether this is part of attacks by residents who have growing dissatisfactions with the municipality.
Ntshalintshali said these have been on the increase like it occurred during recent power-cuts in the area.
“One of the objectives of local government is to ensure the provision of services to communities,” she said.
“But these attacks, which must be stopped, will make it virtually impossible to deliver services,” Ntshalintshali continued.
“On behalf of councillors, managers and the entire staff we wish to send our condolences to the family of the deceased. We hope the family finds comfort in the knowledge that he died serving residents of Emalahleni,” she said.
The mayor spoke about it in her State of the Municipal Address.
eMalahleni local municipality lost over R80 million to protesters stealing and destroying public infrastructure.
Municipal spokesman Kingdom Mabuza said mayor Lindiwe Ntshalintshali spoke about it in her State of the Municipal Address a week ago.
“[It is] hoodlums who in some instances masquerade as residents who are aggrieved by lack of service delivery,” Mabuza said.
Ntshalintshali said theft of electrical equipments has been on the increase and this has resulted “intermittent power outages to communities” and the huge replacement costs and increased insurance premiums.
“The mayor revealed that persistent theft and vandalism of infrastructure is costing the municipality millions which could have been diverted to services,” said Mabuza.
“Theft and vandalism of electrical equipment on the municipal networks have been on the increase and this has resulted in intermittent power outrages to communities, strain on the municipal budget as this has resulted in huge replacement costs and increased insurance premiums.
This is the theft and vandalism of cables, transformers, pumps, motors and water meters.