Pietermaritzburg voters demand new election candidate

Protesters block roads again

Photo of residents blocking roads with burning tyres

Residents blocked roads, demanding a new candidate in the municipal elections. Photo: Ntombi Mbomvu

By Nompendulo Ngubane

1 June 2016

Some residents of ward 18 in Pietermaritzburg are threatening to set alight all the voting stations in their ward if councillor Sindisiwe Gwala is the ANC candidate for local government elections.

Residents of France “location” protested against Gwala on Tuesday for the third time in May. Richmond Road and other parts of Imbali Unit 14 were blocked with burning tyres, stones and tree branches. Road users were forced to use other routes as protesters did not allow anyone to pass through.

Some were singing songs about Gwala: “Her time is over”.

Protesters said they had written to Msunduzi municipality mayor Chris Ndlela expressing their dissatisfaction with the councillor, but he had not responded.

“No one in this ward will vote if Gwala is to be voted for,” said resident Clementine Dlamini. “We have been saying the same thing over and over but no one listens. We are being fed ward councillors who are selfish. We have a problem of toilets and roads for over a decade now. We are tired and we will continue to protest until they remove her from the candidates. Her time is over and we will repeat this until they hear what we are saying,” said Dlamini.

Some pensioners were part of the protest. Walking long kilometres to reach the ward councillor’s office is one of residents’ complaints.

Residents accused Gwala of failing to look after the ward, especially France. She was also accused of giving preferential treatment to some parts of Imbali Unit 14.

Nokuthula Dlomo, a resident of Imbali Unit 14, said the councillor had “divided us as residents”.

“Part of the area where she resides is well taken care of. They never complain about water, toilets or any of the basic needs we are complaining about. They have nothing to worry about. Why is she dividing us as the community? No one will vote for her ,” said Dlomo.

Ndlela said infrastructure-related matters were forwarded to the relevant officials. “On the nomination of the candidate councillor, I have no jurisdiction,” said Ndlela.

Numerous attempts to get hold of Gwala failed. Her phone rang unanswered.

Provincial ANC Mdumiseni Ntuli has previously said that the the ANC does not choose the candidates without community involvement. He said he had not heard anything specific about Gwala.

“All the proposed candidates are presented to the community before anything is being finalised. The proposed candidates are elected from the branches, then they are presented to the community during a community meeting. The people have a right to point out if they are not happy with any of the four candidates that are being chosen,” he said.