Second shutdown imminent, says MCC

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Protesters and police clash during the first shutdown in Bloemfontein last month. PHOTO: TJAART VAN DER WALT

It is no more a question of “if”, but rather of “when” the Mangaung Community Concern (MCC) will take to the streets as part of a planned second shutdown to bring the “Mangaung Metro Council to its senses”.

Little over a month ago, the MCC embarked on a weeklong shutdown that crippled the city’s economy. Violence erupted all over the city and public transport came to a screeching halt, practically preventing people from getting to their places of employment.

The shutdown was called off by the MCC after the Premier of the Free State, Sefora Mtombela, stepped in and entered into an agreement with the MCC, which would see the organisation’s demands being given the proper attention by the authorities.

These demands included the dissolvement of the current council of the Mangaung Metro as well as the appointment of an administrator to ensure that the affairs of the metro were run more responsibly and to the benefit of the residents of the City of Roses.

Now the MCC is accusing the authorities of backtracking on the original agreement by delaying the dissolvement of the council. According to a press release by the secretary of the MCC, Keorapetse Koikoi, the treatment that they have been receiving from the authorities leaves them no other option but to take the battle to the streets once again.

“This morning (Tuesday) our team of negotiators met with the government’s negotiating team led by the MEC of COGTA, Thembeni Nxangisa. We conveyed to him our disappointment with his government and how we as MCC view their continued refusal to dissolve Mangaung Municipality as a clear sign that this government is arrogant and does not care at all about what the Mangaung residents are saying.

“Following our continued consultations with the various stakeholders and residents of Mangaung, we wish to announce July 1, 2021 to be the commencement day of a rolling mass action, which will only end when this council has been disbanded!”

Koikoi said the MCC, together with all the stakeholders, will hold a press conference on June 26 to give details of how the mass action will unfold. During the same event, they will also share measures designed to ensure the strict observation of Covid-19 level 3 regulations.

According to Sello Pietersen, spokesperson of the Free State government, the Premier has noted the statement doing the rounds regarding the imminent second shutdown. “The Premier respects the constitutional rights of all citizens to demonstrate peacefully whenever they are aggrieved. However, she believes strongly that the process of engagements and continued discussions between all affected parties remain the most critical route towards finding a lasting solution.

“She therefore wishes to urge the leadership of MCC not to collapse the process of engagement because the interests and lasting resolution of challenges facing the people of Mangaung is a priority to everyone and government. She believes strongly that the best solutions will be found when all concerned communicate and discuss,” said Pietersen.

However, the MCC remains resolute on the path they have chosen. “We have met with the ANC Interim Provincial Committee (IPC) after the Premier of the province had thrown her hands into the air, directing us to engage directly with it (IPC) as she needed political backing.

“They begged for our indulgence and now, almost a week after meeting them, Mangaung’s council has still not been dissolved. We will not be negotiating with the provincial government anymore!” said a defiant Koikoi.

Pieter Delport

pieterd@mahareng.co.za