No new municipality for Malamulele

30 January 2015 - 18:26 By Sapa

Malamulele residents will not get their own municipality, despite weeks of protests, Limpopo's co-operative governance department said on Friday.

"No, they are not getting it," MEC Makoma Makhurupetje's spokesman Motupa Selomo said, following a meeting with the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB).

MDB members held a closed meeting with the Malamulele task team and Makhurupetje on Friday.

Protesters demanding their own municipality have brought Malamulele to a standstill, monitoring roads to ensure no business takes place, and forcing a shutdown of schools as well as shops in the local mall.

Residents have blamed the MDB for not heeding their call for Malamulele and some surrounding areas, especially the Xitsonga-speaking ones, to have a separate municipality.

They claim they are not receiving services from the Thulamela municipality, which they allege has been channelling services to Tshivenda-speaking areas.

The demand for another municipality has fuelled tensions between Tshivenda and Xitsonga speakers, and triggered divisions among local traditional leaders, as some regard it as a tribal issue.

Last year, protesters set fire to shops and looted, causing millions of rands in damage.

The MDB was not immediately available for comment.

There were no immediate reports of violence following the announcement.

"For the last couple of days its been quiet, but the shutdown remains. There are no services, and schools and businesses are still closed," Colonel Ronel Otto said while the meeting continued.

"They [residents] are awaiting feedback from the MDB."

She said feedback was initially expected on Saturday.

The MDB said in a statement on Thursday that its members would meet in a closed session with the Limpopo provincial administration, including Makhurupetje and community representatives.

"The purpose of the meeting is to provide information regarding the outcome of the study that was conducted by the MDB under the conditions that were outlined to the community," spokeswoman Bulelwa Mbali-Khoele said.

In the statement on Thursday the MDB said it would not announce at Friday's meeting whether Malamulele would get its own municipality. However, this decision was apparently reversed.