Pretoria roads barricaded tyres burnt, members protest ANC Mayoral choice

By Sarah McGregor and Paul Vecchiatto

Picture: Twitter

(Bloomberg) — Protesters set buses and tires on fire in townships around the South African capital, Pretoria, after it was announced that the current mayor didn’t get backing from the African National Congress to run again in upcoming local elections, News24 reported.

Tshwane municipality Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa will be replaced by Thoko Didiza as the candidate for the ruling party. Demonstrators set tires alight and piled rocks to block roads and were throwing stones on Monday,  the news agency reported on its website.

South Africa will hold local elections on Aug. 3, when voters will elect mayors and councilors for the country’s 278 municipalities. Pretoria is one of the important centers the ANC is at risk of losing, along with the commercial hub of Johannesburg and the coastal city of Port Elizabeth.

The protests may be viewed as a sign that the ANC is out-of-touch with its supporters, independent political analyst Daniel Silke said by phone. The party has “misread the feelings on the ground,” he said. “The danger is that the violence may alienate ordinary voters who may decide not to participate in the local elections.”

The opposition Democratic Alliance said the protests on Monday laid bare the “factionalism and in-fighting” within the governing ANC, which has turned violent.

“Tshwane burns this evening as a result of a party at war with itself,” the DA said in an e-mailed statement. “That war has now spilled onto our streets, placing the people of Tshwane at risk.”

The government called for calm around the capital.

“Whilst all South Africans have the constitutional right to protest, government reiterates its condemnation against any form of violence and intimidation during protests and encourages continued dialogue to resolve differences,” Donald Liphoko, the acting director-general of the Government Communication and Information Service, said in a statement on Tuesday.

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