POLITICAL infighting between the Nelson Mandela Bay ANC and the council has boiled over to communities, with warring factions supporting regional chairman Nceba Faku and mayor Zanoxolo Wayile threatening each other with violence.
Tensions are so high that two groups of residents who live on opposite sides of Tyinira Road in Motherwell yesterday threatened that "blood would spill” should rival members be found on the other’s turf.
While some residents claim the fight is about slow service delivery, some have admitted it is because of the political battle in the ANC leadership in the Bay.
After closing down three councillors’ offices last month, the group supporting Faku attempted to disrupt construction at an infrastructure development project site in NU29 on Tuesday, allegedly in protest against poor housing delivery and nepotism by ward councillor Aaron Nyikilana.
They claim they were beaten up by members from the opposing faction, who live in NU29 and support Wayile. However, Wayile supporters have denied beating up anyone.
The project’s community liaison officer, Ayanda Sigwadi, said Faku’s group, led by Motherwell resident Siphiwo Dayimani, came to their site office on Tuesday, demanding that the project be stopped.
Sigwadi said: "They threatened to burn the machinery if we continued working.”
A self-proclaimed Wayile supporter, Khungile Jacob, said: "We told them [Faku group] that we don’t ever want to see them here again. If we see them again in NU29 blood will flow. This group is not from this ward. People are being used by Dayimani to protest against Nyikilana but he [Nyikilana] will serve his full term in office.”
Meanwhile, Dayimani said: "No one from NU29 will be allowed to come to NU11. And remember they don’t have schools and access to transport there in NU29. They have to come to NU11 to access schools and public transport.
"We will come down hard on them. Those [from NU29] who have got jobs won’t be able to go to work. They had better remain in their houses because if they can assault our people, then we are forced to assault one of their kind too.”
Dayimani said two people were attacked by Wayile’s supporters who tried to stop them while closing the community project on Tuesday.
He said: "What is happening has got nothing to do with ANC factions, it’s got nothing to do with Faku or Wayile. It’s got to do with service delivery. This is about ward 54 residents who are unhappy about slow housing delivery.”
ANC regional secretary Zandisile Qupe said: "The ward 54 issues are being attended to by the REC [regional executive committee]. We held meetings about a week ago to try and resolve the matter.
"Service delivery is for all people and cannot be [used to further a] political issue. The REC does not condone the halting of community projects.”
Nyikilana could not be reached for comment.
Councillor Sobantu Madlavu said: "What is happening is political infighting, definitely. We don’t know why this is happening. We are going to call a community meeting soon to hear from residents what is really happening.”
Recent service delivery protests, including the one in Booysen Park last week when councillor Mbongeni Bungane’s office was set alight, were said to be politically instigated to make the city ungovernable.
Bungane is known to be aligned to Wayile.
Shortly after the incident, Bungane told Joe Slovo residents the fire had nothing to do with electricity connections.
"All this damage is politically motivated. Since March this year we have had people unhappy with the current ANC structure in the area.”
Speaking to The Herald yesterday, Bungane said the issue was a veiled political attack.
"When this thing started in April, it came as if it was a service delivery protest. Then the MEC of Local Government came and we tabled the projects planned for the area.
"Now last week they claimed it was about illegal [electricity] connections, but the information we gathered is that there are some leaders that are hell bent on ensuring division. The issue is not about me, it’s about people who want to accumulate work and tenders at the expense of others.”
At a full council meeting yesterday, Wayile said some people were "deriving joy” from all the service delivery protests.
"What these people need to take into account is that this is not good for the city because it tarnishes the image of the city.
"This makes it difficult to clinch big investment projects, because with the contestation of the allocation of projects, investors look at the issues of governance in the area to see whether or not it is a conducive climate to invest.
"There is one commander in this city and that commander is me,” Wayile said.