The DA accuses the ANC of instigating Western Cape land protests

The Democratic Alliance (DA) caucus in the Western Cape province has accused the ANC of spurring on land occupations around the Cape in an effort to bully their party.

Around the Cape, land occupations and protests have taken place as communities demand decent housing. The DA’s chief whip Mark Wiley hosted a press briefing on Wednesday, and coincidentally, just outside the legislature building where he spoke, residents had gathered to protest against unlawful evictions.

Communities in Parkwood, Vrygrond, Ocean View and Mitchell’s Plein have all occupied vacant land in protest against the lack of housing in the province and the long backlog of land claims that have meant decades of waiting for some residents.

For Wiley, the eruption of land occupations in recent months has been stimulated by the ANC’s political agenda.

“The hand of the ANC without a doubt has been most apparent in these protests,” Wiley said.

‘We will not be bullied in this parliament, we cannot allow whole communities to be held hostage by the ANC,” he continued.

There have been questions raised whether the protests are a coordinated effort driven by outside agendas or if they are sincere. A coloured nationalist group, known as Gatvol Capetonian, have claimed responsibility for some of the protests, saying they want coloured people to reclaim their homes and that black people have “no claim” to the land. But some protesters have said that the only reason they occupy land is for decent housing and not a political agenda.

“The community wanted to know when they were going to get houses. But they weren’t getting answers, so they decided to occupy the land until they get those houses. And because I am on the ground among the people, I am also the person that tries to control the community and make sure there’s peace, so they asked me to help coordinate,” Dominique Booysen, a protester from Parkwood, told the Mail & Guardian in May.

The spate of land occupations around the province led to a clampdown from the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement on land protests. The City adopted a “zero tolerance” approach to protests, but Wiley said on Wednesday that the Western Cape government is struggling to overcome its housing backlog.

The Western Cape ANC, meanwhile, has countered the DA’s claims.

“Today, the DA has finally been exposed as a party that does not know how to handle the needs of the poor. They have always preferred to govern over the self reliant members of society. They cannot blame the ANC for finally being met by the poor who are tired of broken promises,” said ANC Western Cape spokesperson Yonela Diko.