RESIDENTS of strife torn Vuwani in Limpopo have rejected the government’s peace deal aimed at ending the strike and paving the way for incident free local government elections on August 3.
Community leaders rejected the state’s deal presented by Co-operative Governance Minister Des Van Rooyen, saying it was driven by the selfish desire to hold elections at the expense of their interests.
On Friday, traditional and community leaders from Vuwani met at VhaVenda King Thovhele Mphephu Ramabulana with a view to signing the agreement.
However, the talks collapsed without any agreement reached, paving the way for renewed violence and tension in the area ahead of the polls.
Nsovo Sambo, a Vuwani community leader opposed to the incorporation of the area into the newly established Malamulele Municipality, confirmed that they rejected the deal.
He also warned traditional leaders that they would be signing it at their own risk if they did.
“As the community structure we have realised that the agreement does cater for the needs of people of Vuwani. It’s talking about what will be done only after the elections,” said Sambo.
“We don’t want to partake in anything that is concerning the new entity. If this agreement is talking about post-election, not pre-election, we cannot be part of that agreement.”
Vuwani residents went on the rampage in April over the announcement that their area would be incorporated into Malamulele from the Makhado Municipality after the elections.
They burnt down 24 schools, looted shops and shut down the area causing more than R500 million worth of damage.
Venda Chief Mmbangiseni Masia said they were optimistic that their discussions with the government would yield positive results, adding that a solution would be found.
Masia and his community are said to be refusing to be part of the new municipality.
“The ultimate objective is to resolve the problem, whichever way for as long as this problem becomes a history in the near future,” Masia said.
Van Rooyen said the government’s Security Cluster has devised a plan to ensure violence free elections in Vuwani.
He told African Times that the state was ready for any eventualities after peace-talks reached a deadlock, with protesting villagers vowing to declare the troubled Vuwani a no go area again during the elections.
“Our security cluster plans are at advance stage, and of course we cannot give details now,” said Van Rooyen.
He said the decision to prevent voting from taking place in Vuwani infringed on the rights of other residents who wanted to exercise their rights to choose public representatives.
Van Rooyen said the security plan was presented to the stakeholders but refused to divulge details.
However, security cluster sources said the plan involved deploying the army to protect voters and help the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) run incident free elections.
The government’s concern about possible violence in Vuwani during the elections is not baseless.
At the height of protests in the area earlier this year, the IEC failed to run voter registration campaigns after residents blocked roads with burning tyres and rocks.
They clashed with riot police and ran street battles with law enforcement agents for hours.