Battle for the soul of Juju raging

2016-05-12 06:00

Ten years after its establishment, the Gugulethu Development Forum is still grappling with issues of legitimacy, boundaries, political and commercial interests.

Then as now, the question uppermost to the residents and outlying areas was; where does Gugulethu begin and where does it end. Until a few years ago, the boundaries were clear-cut, but with the advent of democracy and municipal demarcation, these borders seem to be a blur in memory.

In the past, NY4, beginning from the police station, NY78, starting from NY5, NY97, inbound from from NY78, and NY112, NY111, comprised all the borders of what was called Gugulethu. Then there were the hostels in Kwa-Khikhi in the south and Dairy Belle in the north. Now there are New Rest, Kanana, Barcelona and Europe residents also claiming to be part of Gugulethu.

Section Four was an addition to Gugulethu and was established in the early 70’s. To the east of NY78, KTC seems to have existed, albeit under different names, Jakkalsvlei being one of them. The area called New Crossroads-beneficiaries of a USA government scheme-was previously used by Gugulethu and Nyanga East residents as a place of isolation for initiates, until the huge sand dunes were removed and the forest was cut down to make way for people from Old Crossroads.

At a so-called conference to elect the GDF executive at the JL Zwane Church a week ago, the delegates were still grappling with these questions of whether these ‘outsiders’ were part of Gugulethu. The elections did not take place. According to the ad-hoc committee, ‘a technical glitch was to blame for the aborted elections’.

But the highly charged meeting exposed the weak flanks of those tasked with finding solutions to a decade long problem and the opportunistic interests of politicians fearful of losing a constituency. ‘Demarcation’. Because of ‘municipal demarcation’, some of these constituencies straddle right in the heart of Gugulethu, and therein lies the rub, for both camps of the ‘demarcation’ divide.

Even before the conference, social media was abuzz with posts about the ‘battle for the soul of Gugulethu development’.

On Facebook, Nceba Sandlana warned against ‘untrustworthy individuals who did not care about the future of Gugulethu, amanyoronyoro, snakes, who wanted to put a wrong face to lead GDF’.

Another burning issue was whether people with political connections should be in the leadership of the GDF.

“Politicians will kill the GDF, just like in the past. If we elected politicians, Gugulethu will never realise its dreams. We must think of our families, the future of our children.”

He said he was praying to God to protect Gugulethu from power-mongers who lacked foresight and vision.

Sandlana was at pains to stress that for Gugulethu to grow the GDF needed to be left to people who were not politically active but to influential people including those who were involved in community development.

However, Sikelela Zokufa said, people should be careful not to create antagonistic tendencies towards politicians because they play a central role in development.

“You need not to publicly rebuke them but find a common strategy or plan to work together. Because you cannot entirely divorce them from issues of development.”

At one stage during the highly charged atmosphere, tempers flared and delegates had a go at each other.

Xolile Ndzoyi, a member of the interim committee, decried the state of affairs of Gugulethu under the City of Cape Town municipal boundaries.

He charged that under the municipal boundaries, Gugulethu has achieved nothing and argued for a state of rational thinking that Gugulethu should consider partying ways with its surroundings if it wanted to see progress.

Ndzoyi proposed that the conference adopt new amendments to the GDF constitution, to effect the excising of areas like Tambo Village, New Rest, Kwa-Khikhi, KTC, Barcelona and Europe.

But Luvuyo Zondani, a councillor based in New Crossroads, charged that this thinking was not in line with the principles and values of the national democratic revolution.

“Our government is speaking integration and social cohesion, bringing different communities together, in the spirit of Ubuntu.”

Bhura Panziso cautioned public office bearers against fuelling divisions and concurred with Zondani, that the debate was reckless and demeaning to the stature of the progress made in the country.

Ward councillor Nombeko Lephuthing was, however, adamant that Gugulethu should part ways with these areas and that the proposed amendments to the constitution of GDF were in the best interest of the people of Gugulethu.

Gugulethu was founded in August 1958, but it seems, almost six decades later, the battle for it’s soul has only just begun.

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