Dear Cde Gwede Mantashe
In the midst of the smoke and flames of the Tshwane unrests, we all have had an opportunity to wipe our teary smoked eyes and watch a lot of our fellow community member’s praise outgoing Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa for bettering their lives and being the pillar of the ANC in the administrative capital.
It is thus Pivotal at this time to stop you in your tracks and make it vehemently clear to you that your earlier statements are just as regrettable as the destruction of property that we have witnessed since yesterday.
Telling us that the Tshwane protests are “acts of thuggery” and that the protesters were not members of the governing party is a petty lie that will not stop the city from burning. The protesters have said they simply do not want your mayoral candidate Thoko Didiza and have since burnt down valuable property and many shops have been looted with roads barricaded already.
We already know that these regrettable events may be linked to the toxic politics of patronage and let me be the first to tell you the simple reason why the electorate will burn the whole city if need be. Didiza is not and will never be from Tshwane. Your desired candidate is alien to the Tshwane culture and for that alone, the people will not accept her even if she was to promise every resident a plethora of gold coins.
We have seen how Ramokgopa has tried to intervene but like I said, it seems like the mayor’s intervention isn’t helping too much as residents remain adamant that Didiza must go.
Fellow Cde Mantashe, communal politics has been a disaster in countries like India, Nigeria and Kenya. It is of the utmost importance that South Africa does not also go down this road. The battle that is now on for the soul of the ANC is about much more than just corruption.
It is also about the form of our politics and the future of democracy.
Your current political crisis and dilemma is not just a result of the crisis within the ANC. The opportunism of the EFF’s response to the crisis will hurt you more and where it hurts most with elections drawing closer.
We all cheer on the EFF when they stand up to Zuma and the mess that he is dragging the country into. But the EFF is will seek to make political capital out of the disaster in Tshwane for its own narrow agenda- Be warned!
While it is obviously regrettable when public property is damaged there is a reason why popular protest, from Paris in 2005 to London in 1981 and Soweto in 1976, often targets government property. Protest, to be effective, has to target an accessible target with symbolic value.
When rage is felt against a government then government property will always be a potential target for protest.
As you sip on your expensive coffee in that high office, vehicles have already been stoned in places like Soshanguve. 18 buses were burnt in Mamelodi and another 10 in Silverton. Tshwane Municipality has withdrawn all their service staff members for safety reasons.
Things appear to be getting worse and there are plans for a complete shutdown of the City tomorrow.
Heed the voice of the people and simply give them the candidate they want!
Yours in Peace
- Hilary Mare is a freelance journalist in the Pretoria metropolitan