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Residents turn anger on premier, mayor

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Frustrated city residents have given Premier Zamani Saul 48 hours to meet with community representatives to address a list of demands that was handed over to him on Thursday.

Pictures: Danie van der Lith

AFTER living without water for nearly a week, frustrated city residents have now turned their anger towards Kimberley’s executive mayor and the Northern Cape’s premier.

Claiming incompetence within local government, residents have given the premier, Dr Zamani Saul, 48 hours to meet with community representatives to address a list of demands that was handed over to him on Thursday.

The aggrieved city residents marched to the Office of the Premier and then to the Office of the Executive Mayor, after the Sol Plaatje Municipality failed to address previous memorandums.

This follows after recent service delivery challenges, including city-wide water and electricity cuts, as well as the possibility of another electricity price hike.

Residents who participated in Thursday’s march came from the greater Kimberley area, including Galeshewe, Roodepan, Greenpoint and Colville, as well as Riverton and Ritchie, and also included Kimberley artisanal miners.

The march nearly turned violent when marchers arrived at the Premier’s Office only to find that the gates were locked. There was also a heavy police presence outside the building.

Residents were forced to wait for nearly an hour-and-a-half before Zamani emerged. This as they were about to leave to march to the CBD, where they threatened to cause chaos.

Zamani was given a mandate to set up an urgent meeting with community representatives in order to address the long overdue service delivery challenges. They also threatened to initiate a complete shutdown of the city from Monday if he did not meet with the community.

They demanded that the first meeting takes place today at 3pm.

They further slammed the premier for not having Kimberley’s best interests at heart, claiming that he was using the provincial capital as his “cash cow”.

Residents from Roodepan pointed out that they only received empty promises when they handed over a memorandum to the mayor in March this year. They said they were forced to embark on a march after having to spend days without water and electricity.

“We are here to prove that the premier and the mayor are liars. The premier lied to us that his door will remain open 24/7, but the opposite is now happening.

“We were under water earlier this year and now we are without water,” one community member said.

Another resident accused Saul of only “showing face” when there is money involved. “He never loved Kimberley. He is here to milk the Province dry. When he arrived in the Province in his short pants he referred to us as “julle Kimberley se mense”.

A representative from Ritchie told Zamani to return to the town to address the community regarding the long-promised service delivery challenges.

“We are tired of Sol Plaatje and the ANC. We are a forgotten community. There are no streets in Ritchie. Attention is being given to streets that do not need servicing. Services are being redirected to certain people,” the Ritchie resident said.

“You went to Ritchie and took our memorandum when we protested in 2019, but you never returned.”

Community representatives also insisted that the premier’s advisor, Norman Shushu, and his team provide weekly progress reports, as promised by Zamani when he recently announced a R500 million injection to fix Kimberley’s infrastructure.

Zamani, at the time, promised that the executive mayor of the Frances Baard District Municipality, Wende Marekwa, and Mabilo would give political leadership and would report weekly to the Premier’s Office.

Further demands from residents who participated in Thursday’s march included:

* The publication of full details regarding a supply study of electricity that was reportedly done;

* All attempts to increase the price of electricity from July 1 must stop;

* The accounts of all residents and businesses must be reviewed over a period of six months and corrected;

* No salary increases for upper management until all issues have been addressed;

* The Sol Plaatje Call Centre must have an online and transparent platform which shows when calls have been made and when they have been attended to; and

* An end to tenders processes while projects must be open to empower students from the university and colleges.