Calls for clean-up ignored

2010-10-15 00:00

IF you want the municipality to clean up the filth in your neighbourhood streets, you’ll have to cough up, even though you already pay rates and refuse removal charges.

This is what democratic South Africa’s first director-general in the Public Works Department, Sipho Shezi, discovered when he asked the municipality to clean up the filthy streets of his home suburb, Imbali.

Shezi has agreed to pay up to save his 83-year-old mother embarrassment.

His mother, the bishop of St John’s Apostolic Faith Mission in Imbali, is expecting more than 20 000 delegates from all over the country for a national church convention this weekend.

He believes he has no choice, and asks what image is the city projecting when the streets are paved with filth.

Shezi says he is angry because an ANC-led municipality that fails to carry out its basic tasks of keeping a city clean gives the party a bad name.

“We have councillors wearing the trappings of the ANC, yet they are not upholding the name of the party,” he said.

The former struggle activist has been waging a lengthy battle with the municipality over the filth in Imbali. “Two years ago I wrote to former head of community services Zwe Hulane to put skips and provide bins in Imbali.

“He promised he would do something but nothing was done,” Shezi said.

This year a group of residents, fed up with the inaction of their ward councillor Tholakele Dlamini, started a residents’ association.

Shezi said he helped the association draft letters to Dlamini, who, he says, remains unresponsive and has refused to attend meetings convened by the community.

The irony of the situation, he adds, is that his mother’s church is surrounded by filth yet she is sitting with a bill for over R90 000 purportedly for refuse removal and municipal services.

She has been trying to get someone at the municipality to explain the bill to her, but without success. This is another matter he has to attend to on his visit home. Shezi, a businessman, is based in Johannesburg.

Dlamini defends her position by saying that she has led volunteers in clean-up campaigns in Imbali, but no sooner have they cleared the mess when more rubbish is dumped.

She said people either forget to put out their rubbish or leave it too late and miss the refuse trucks. They do not want the rotting rubbish in their yards so they dump it.

Municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma promised that the municipality will clean up in Unit 13 before the church event.

“As a municipality, we are responsible for the collection of litter in designated municipal dump sites, other than the routine house waste removal. How much will have to be paid will depend on how much resources and time is required to clean up.

“The executive for waste management, John Gutridge, will deal with the matter to assist Mr Shezi. We cannot afford further embarrassment than what we have experienced already,” said Zuma.

He added that the municipality will not win the war against filth by fighting it alone.

“We need the co-operation of the residents not to litter and to refrain from illegal dumping. The situation in the townships is appalling. Illegal dumping is a culture in the townships. We have to work together to stop this.”

Zuma said the waste management unit is finalising warning and prosecution documentation, and a by-law enforcement team is being put together that will launch a public awareness and education programme.

“We cannot overemphasise the need to work together to do more,” he added.

Shezi does not see the situation as the municipality helping him, but him helping the municipality.

This is what ratepayers pay them to do, he says.

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