“People are tired of living in shacks with no services while the provincial government is millions of rand in debt to the municipality."
OPPOSITION parties have urged disgruntled Kimberley residents, who participated in protest action last week, to attend community meetings to highlight their frustration with service delivery from the Sol Plaatje Municipality.
The opposition parties, comprising of the DA, EFF, and Cope, during a press conference held at Cope’s provincial office on Friday, expressed their concern following the spate of recent protests in Kimberley and neighbouring towns such as Pampierstad and Hartswater.
Residents from Roodepan, Jacksonville, Colville and Homelight last week barricaded roads with burning tyres, refuse and rocks to demonstrate their unhappiness with the lack of service delivery from Sol Plaatje Municipality.
Jacksonville residents also accused the municipality of wanting to forcefully remove them from the land they are currently occupying.
Residents barricaded all roads leading into Roodepan and parts of Galeshewe last week Monday, stating that they will not move from the land.
Protest action spilled over to other parts of the city and resulted in schools being closed and many community members not being able to get to work.
DA councillor Shaine Griqua pointed out that the debt owed to Sol Plaatje by some government departments hampered municipal plans to provide adequate services to communities.
“In Kimberley, the provincial Department of Roads and Public Works owes the Sol Plaatje Municipality R642.9 million, the Department of Education owes R14.9 million, the Department of Health owes R6.97 million and the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture owes in excess of R1 million to the municipality. The municipality can only function on money collected from these departments and payments from ratepayers.
“People are tired of living in shacks with no services while the provincial government is millions of rand in debt to the municipality. That is money that could contribute to answering the cries of the people,” said Griqua.
He also accused the government of failing the people.
“Adequate housing was recognised as part of the right to an adequate standard of living in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The time has come for the government to provide adequate housing, which has to be more than merely four walls and a roof.
“Communities must go to the extreme to demand basic services such as clean drinking water, adequate sanitation and electricity.”
Griqua, however, condemned the vandalism of state property during protests.
“Communities have a right to protest but must do so in a responsible manner. Community members must attend IDP public participatory meetings in order for the municipality to hear their voice and also to give input into matters affecting them.
“As much as we need the political leadership of Sol Plaatje to come to the table and be held accountable, the same is expected of communities as well,” he said.
Cope councillor Rosie Ludick urged communities to work in partnership with their councillors.
“It is during community meetings that people are afforded an opportunity to give their mandate to their councillor. The councillor has to take the mandate of the people to council. Many times meetings are called by ward councillors but only a few community members show up. We will fail as councillors if people do not attend meetings,” said Ludick.
EFF councillor Frances Thulo accused former local political leaders of instigating community members to protest against those who are currently in power.
“The ANC has lost some wards to the opposition parties. Some disgruntled ANC members are curbing current councillors from doing their job. When councillors call a community meeting then the meetings are interrupted. The councillor faces further challenges in the council as some administrators refuse to work with the councillor. This results in community members accusing the councillors of not doing their work,” said Thulo.
Meanwhile, ANC provincial secretary Deshi Ngxanga said that the party will this week visit all the affected communities.
“The ANC in the Province will in the coming week meet with the affected communities, together with the regional leadership and officials from the municipalities, to attend to the concerns raised by the respective affected communities,” said Ngxanga yesterday.
“We, however, condemn in the strongest terms the use of violence and other unlawful measures to highlight the concerns and complaints of communities. Our democratic state has created legal institutions and platforms to address community concerns and complaints. We encourage communities to make use of these platforms,” added Ngxanga.
Calm was restored to Kimberley by Friday after Sol Plaatje executive mayor Mangaliso Matika indicated that he will meet with some communities today.
The spokesperson for the mayor, George Mosimane, said that a scheduled meeting with representatives from Lerato Park, Jacksonville and ward six will be held with Matika today.