Skip to comments.Corruption And Neglect Lead To Township Riots Against ANC (South Africa)
Posted on 03/01/2006 6:35:02 PM PST by blam
Corruption and neglect lead to township riots against ANC
By David Blair in Khutsong
Riot police patrol the streets, mobs have burned down the homes of local councillors and government offices lie wrecked and abandoned.
The streets of Khutsong township, strewn with broken glass and burnt tyres, bear vivid witness to the revolt against the African National Congress that is sweeping its former strongholds.
Riot police were deployed in Knutsong township after a revolt against the African National Congress
The movement that liberated South Africa from apartheid could once rely on the automatic support of places like Khutsong. About 90 per cent of the people would vote for the ANC.
Yet scarcely anyone from Khutsong voted in local elections yesterday. For the first time since apartheid's demise, the ANC was unable to campaign or win more than negligible support in a township of 170,000 people.
Instead Khutsong boycotted the polls and forcibly prevented the ANC from campaigning, turning their streets into a party "no-go" area.
The root cause is the incompetence and corruption of ANC-run councils across South Africa. Officials steal money set aside for the poor, corrupt mayors stuff municipal posts with relatives, and services and housing are neglected.
On the fringes of Khutsong thousands live in shacks of cardboard and corrugated iron. In all, 12 million South Africans, more than one quarter of the population, still live in shacks rather than houses.
"The government can go to hell as far as we are concerned," said one 25-year-old resident, who turned his anger on President Thabo Mbeki. "Even Mbeki is not welcome here. It's too late for the president to come here. His car will be pelted with stones."
The spark for the revolt was the decision to redraw provincial boundaries, moving Khutsong from Gauteng province, South Africa's richest, to North West, one of its poorest.
Residents feared that once they were handed over to a new and cash-strapped local government, provision of housing would grow even worse.
Riots have broken out every week since December. Yesterday parts of the township resembled a battleground, with government buildings singled out for attack.
Local council offices have been looted and stripped bare, the public library gutted by fire. Police helicopters hover overhead and armoured cars patrol the streets, scenes reminiscent of the township revolt against the apartheid regime 20 years ago.
Then repression from a white supremacist regime drove the ANC underground. In Khutsong today its councillors are again leading underground lives, having fled the fury of their constituents.
Of the township's 17 councillors, 13 have seen their homes go up in flames. "The mob ran amok," said Papi Tselane, 44, the councillor for ward seven. "Everything was burnt. Everything my family has was destroyed. All we have left is what we are wearing."
The ANC ran a new slate of candidates in the election but three of Khutsong's polling stations were petrol bombed yesterday.
Asked if he supported the township's transfer to the new province, Mr Tselane said: "As a loyal member of the ANC, I have to toe the line. The movement has spoken."
Khutsong's people are no longer willing to show the same unquestioning obedience. "We're not voting until such time as the ANC starts listening to the people," said one protester. "These councillors were selfish and failed to support the community."
The ANC still enjoys immense popularity and the party will win these elections nationwide. No one has been killed in Khutsong and the riots are not as serious as those under apartheid.
But across South Africa the townships are serving notice they can no longer be taken for granted.
"Say it ain't so!"
Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the rest of the bunch would be just fine there.
this is a shocking development !
who would have thought!
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