Chaos reigns in Port St Johns due to political upheaval

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Chaos is reigning in the Eastern Cape coastal town of Port St Johns due to political upheaval. Numerous protests have erupted across town this past week as stakeholders demand the resignation of the mayor, Nomvuzo Mlombile Cingo, and senior managers.

They demand the town must be run by people born in the area. But the upheaval took a sinister turn last week with an arson attack on the mayor’s house.

Trucks are also being used to block the R61 preventing traffic to go through the town. The stakeholders in the matter want the African National Congress (ANC) to meet their demands.

Port St Johns-Woods Forum chairperson, Andile Mzungule, says they have failed.

“There in Port St John’s have by all means given a chance to the managers coming out of this area, but have failed us, all we are experiencing is the continued collapse of our town. Our Port St Johns is just a laughing stock because there is no development. Our children are not being recognized even if they qualify, but what these people want it’s only people from Lusikisiki,” explains Mzungule.

Calls for mayor’s resignation

The ANC’s chief whip in council was also shot in an attack that left his nephew wounded. The local SANCO chairperson, Nelson Nontlevu, says the mayor must go.

“We want the resignation letter from mama Cingo. We want to put in power one of our own. A person that will take Port St Johns to another level. We are saying she must go and Mr. Tshotsho because we are sick and tired of him. they also want to disturb Alize the taxi industry, that is why these people are also angry about what is going on here.”

Going nowhere

The ANC’s provincial secretary, Lulama Ngcukaitobi, says the mayor and councillors are going nowhere.

“It will be illegal for anybody to remove a seating mayor without utilizing the legislated process and you cannot use a gun to remove a democratically elected leadership, it shows the naivity and ignorance of those people that are making such calls so it is an act of criminality. That is how we can characterise it and the police must arrest such criminals.”

Factional battles

Political parties say the unrest is caused by the ANC’s factional battles. The ATM’s Mzwandile Jam Jam says the peace pipe must be smoked.

“We, therefore, call upon all the councillors, all the leadership to make sure that there is peace in Port St Johns, and there is stability so that we can take service delivery to the people. Because we as the ATM, stand for peace.   We need an accountable government, hence we are saying this thing must come to an end,” says Jam Jam.

Thembalihle Xhangayi is a Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor in Port St Johns says unrest has disrupted business and social activities in the small town.

“All that is happening right now is detrimental to the lives of the people. There is a lot of unemployment here, there is instability, shops are closed and this lady came here early in the morning to see the doctor, but she has been here without any help and we cannot allow this,” explains Xhangayi.

The Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs ministry has condemned the violence directed against the public office bearers.

Ten months ago, disgruntled residents of two wards in Port St Johns local municipality in the Eastern Cape say they didn’t recognise their new Councillors. They picketed outside the Luxolweni Hall in the small coastal town, at the swearing-in ceremony.

LGE 2021 | Port St Johns residents unhappy with newly sworn-in Councillors