Home News NC govt calls on community leaders to ‘return to the table’

NC govt calls on community leaders to ‘return to the table’

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The Office of the Premier has also rubbished allegations of corruption relating to the R500 million that his been allocated to upgrade the city

Premier Zamani Saul. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE NORTHERN Cape provincial executive has called on local community leaders in Kimberley to return to the table to engage government over their service delivery concerns and to refrain from blockading roads to demonstrate their anger.

This follows after residents from different areas in the city embarked on protest action by closing several roads on Monday to demonstrate their unhappiness over “poor and non-existent” service delivery, while also calling for clarity on the R500 million budgeted to upgrade the city’s infrastructure.

The spate of recent protests in the city follows an announcement by Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul on April 8 that half a billion rand would be invested by the Northern Cape provincial government, in partnership with the Sol Plaatje Municipality, to “return the sparkle” to Kimberley in the next 12 months.

Saul said that R500 million had been budgeted to address infrastructure challenges such as sewage spillages, potholes and water leaks in the city

The spokesperson for the Office of the Premier, Bronwyn Thomas-Abrahams, on Monday urged residents not to demonstrate their frustrations by denying other residents basic services.

“A shutdown impacts negatively on the very poor, on the very community members whose interests the community leaders claim to have at heart. You cannot have a person’s interest at heart when you have people sitting at home worrying about not having an income or access to health care due to a shutdown,” said Thomas-Abrahams.

She urged community leaders to sit down and address the challenges with provincial government.

“Our community should return to the table. We met with them last week and made it clear that these are engagements. When you are in an engagement everything cannot happen immediately and overnight. However, we are in an engagement and taking hands, which will serve the interests of the community of Kimberley.

“We have engaged with the United Community of Sol Plaatje Municipality numerous times. We have been very transparent on what our plans are. It boggles our minds that a few days after the announcement was made on the improvement of the city, we now have community leaders calling for a shutdown of the city.

“The provincial government, together with the Sol Plaatje Municipality, has on several occasions met with the United Community of Sol Plaatje Municipality, to not only report on the planned interventions but also to seek their co-operation in the planned intervention.

“On several occasions Premier Saul has pleaded with the community to exercise patience and restraint and to allow us to start working on the improvement of services.”

Thomas-Abrahams also rubbished allegations of corruption regarding the allocated R500 million.

“If people are convinced that they have evidence of the misappropriation of funds then they can go to the law enforcement agencies that have the capacity to investigate these matters. It does not help to slander individuals on social media. There is nothing hidden about this process. The aim of the process is to improve services in the Sol Plaatje Municipality.

“Premier Saul has taken the people into his confidence with the announcement of the intervention as well as details about the monetary value of the planned works.

“The premier expresses his profound disappointment in the untrue statements made on social media about the intended or planned misappropriation of the announced R500 million. These reckless statements are not backed up by any facts and should people be confident that they do have evidence to back up these allegations, they must without hesitation inform the police, which has the capacity to investigate. Social media platforms do not have that capacity and only serve to promote these untruths.”

She further urged community members to exercise patience as the provincial government, in partnership with the municipality, is working on the beautification of the city.

“It is grossly unfair to expect that after five days of announcing funding there would be an immediate change in circumstances. From this, one can actually deduce that certain individuals were caught off-guard with regards to the funding that was made available and are hell-bent on ensuring that we do not improve the lives of our people.

“It goes without saying that the repair work and the installation of certain infrastructure would undoubtedly not be completed in one week. It is therefore disingenuous and goes against logic that community leaders can incite people to a ‘shutdown’ a week after announcing an intervention that will improve their lives.

“The premier has vowed to see that the commitment made to the people of the city will be honoured and that full accountability will prevail,” concluded Thomas-Abrahams.