Those who instigated violent protests around parts of Tshwane in the lead-up to the 2016 municipal elections were responsible for the violence in Atteridgeville during the anti-immigrant march on Friday, says Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga.
“The same people responsible for the Thoko Didiza saga were blocking W F Nkomo street,” Msimanga said.
He was speaking after a marathon day of attempting to quell tensions between South Africans and their foreign national counterparts in the city.
Parts of the country’s capital were brought to a standstill by the march. Protesters in Atteridgeville threw rocks, burned tyres and allegedly looted shops belonging to foreign nationals.
Msimanga admitted that the constant tension between locals and their foreign counterparts spoke to a greater socio-economic problem which government needed to resolve urgently.
“We have a shrinking pie and ever-growing demand, especially with young people who are saying they want to do things for themselves but lack opportunities, and this is the frustration that is growing now,” said the Tshwane mayor.
Msimanga said he had met with leaders from different groups and even understood the motive behind those who were demonstrating against foreign nationals.
“I got an assurance that the march was a noble one, it was not going to deteriorate into violence. They said they just wanted their voices to be heard, for government to take their concerns seriously,” said Msimanga.
Although he did not explicitly mention the ANC and refused to single out individuals, he said it was obvious to see that other issues were at play in the demonstrations.
“The same white Toyota Camry that was doing the rounds during [ANC MP] Thoko Didiza’s debacle is doing it again, the same group is causing mayhem,” said the Tshwane mayor.
Msimanga was referring to what was dubbed “Tshwane Burning” at the time when violent protests broke out in the townships in 2016.
This, after the ANC had announced Didiza as its mayoral candidate ahead of last year’s local government elections.
“I don’t want to point a finger at an individual but look at the facts … what happened during the Thoko Didiza debacle and what’s happening now,” continued Msimanga.
It would serve other people to destabilise government, by ensuring there is chaos and violence as it was done last year when there was dissatisfaction over a certain party’s candidate list, he added.
His claims come on the back of a discovery of what is believed to be an ANC baseline document of strategies and tactics on how to bring the Democratic Alliance-led administration into chaos, so the ANC could win back the capital city.
“I can tell you there is definitely more being planned to galvanise municipal workers to rebel against the city and to bring service delivery to a standstill,” said Msimanga.
He said even municipal union leaders were in discussions with “the caucus of a certain party” on ways to bring the city to its knees.
“We are working every day to ensure people get the services they deserve. We will be very strict and those using their position in the city to score political points will have to go,” concluded Msimanga.
Police said on Friday that 136 people had been arrested in Pretoria West following the protests.