Scores of Democratic Alliance (DA) supporters marched under heavy security through the streets of Cape Town on Wednesday to voice their dissatisfaction with Eskom’s load shedding, which they said was crippling the economy.
However, an initial plan to hand over a memorandum to the ANC’s regional head office was ditched after supporters of the ruling party also gathered outside the building to “protect it”.
Leaders of the DA led the march through Darling and Adderley streets with protesters carrying placards written “Power To The People, We are Gatvol of Load Shedding”.
Outside the ANC office in Adderley Street, a large group of supporters chanted songs amid a heavy police presence, and made it clear that the protesters were not welcome there.
“We are not going to accept any memorandum from the DA. If they are marching against Eskom or the government they must go to parliament. These are our offices and we are here to protect them,” argued ANC Youth League regional convenor Beulah Hewu.
As the DA protesters approached the office, police created a barricade with their shields against the ANC supporters while other SAPS kept a watchful eye on the march.
However, no incidents of physical scuffles took place, despite some heckling.
The crisis of high-stage load shedding led to the protest and talks of legal action by some civic groups.
Eskom announced on Sunday that it was considering implementing stages two and three load shedding for the next two years to allow the power utility to undertake maintenance of its ageing power generating units.
Premier Alan Winde told the supporters: “Every single South African wants change and it starts today. There are marches in Gauteng and George by those who want to fix the problem. The fault is the ANC”.
An employee of a boiler making company took part in the protest, as the company’s operations had been “badly affected by load shedding”.
“We have tried to implement two generators to keep the business going and ensure that staff still earn an income but we are struggling. We make an economic contribution to the country but all we get in return from the government is empty promises,” said Dewald Victor.
Three of Victor’s colleagues stood next to him carrying placards which read, “Stop the rip off, Take the Power Back and Time for ANC shedding".
ANC provincial organiser Luzuko Bashman argued that it was “hypocritical” of the DA to criticise his party and defined the protest march as a “cheap political tactic”.
“Sewage flows on the streets in Khayelitsha and other townships. People need houses. The service delivery is along racial lines. The DA should first clean its own backyard and sort out the problem of unplaced learners at schools,” added Bashman.