Residents strike

2015-06-17 06:00
A POLICE vehicle is being driven towards the pieces of concrete and bolders that were used to block the road at Intabazwe near Harrismith where the community have been striking since Monday (08/06).

A POLICE vehicle is being driven towards the pieces of concrete and bolders that were used to block the road at Intabazwe near Harrismith where the community have been striking since Monday (08/06).

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THE fuming Intabazwe residents in Harri-smith promise to strike until the executive mayor of the Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality, Vusi Tshabalala, and his municipal manager, Charles Taetsane, resign.

“We want to be led by a competent mayor and municipal manager. Those corrupt officials should step down. We will keep the area burning until they resign,” Neo Motaung, a leader of the community, said.

The residents, who started with their service delivery protest on Monday (08/06), have demonstrated their frustration when they set a clinic and a satellite police station on fire on Tuesday (09/06).

Apparently, the community became angry after their memorandum of grievances, which had been submitted on 22 May, was not answered in the required time frame of two weeks.

Motaung told Express Eastern Free State that they were tired with the leadership that undermined its people.

“Vusi is brave to tell people that no one would force him to resign because he had been entrusted to lead the municipality by the premier, Ace Magashule,” he said.

He said in all 105 people were permanently employed to work under the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) and added that no one knew by whom they had been employed.

“The community of Maluti-a-Phofung doesn’t know how those people were employed. They just took their friends on the street. We are not only fighting for Intabazwe here. We are fighting for our people. We want to buy the electricity straight from Eskom. The municipality has failed to maintain the Eskom account. We now live in fear that Eskom could cut the electricity supply at any time. They don’t allow us to buy the electricity with our cards because they want to use that money elsewhere instead of paying Eskom,” he said.

Motaung said they felt disrespected by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) that gave the mayor the memorandum to respond to the points made against him.

“How could they give the person that we want to resign a chance to respond to our questions? ” he said.

On Wednesday (10/09), responses were submitted to one of the community leaders by Mamosebetsi Mollo, the assistant director of Cogta in the Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality.

But Motaung said they were not happy with the responses and added that they needed a political head to come and address them.

“They even wrote on that paper that they did not know the Vusi that we were referring to. There is not even one thing that they have addressed professionally,” he said.

Motaung said the municipality was going down and he blamed the premier who gave Tshabalala the position. He said they didn’t know who Tshabalala was.

“He has been co-opted as a councillor and after that he was a chief whip. Now he has been promoted to mayor,” he said.

“The municipality will in the near future intensify the removal of waste in all the areas in Maluti-a-Phofung. A budget of R20 million has been put aside for the electricity of Tshiame B and it is projected that the process will be kick-started on 1 July. It will be taken into account that the premier did not lie in this regard as this process could not take place spontaneously due to the procedures that needed to be followed towards implementing this exercise,” the response reads.

Senne Bogatsu, the department communications manager, told Express Eastern Free State that Cogta had scheduled a meeting for Monday (15/06) with the community (representatives) and the municipality.

“In essence the questions raised in the memorandum are directed at the municipality, that is relate to functions of the municipality regarding their responsibility towards the community. One of their concerns or demands is the removal of the municipal manager and mayor.

“The legislation, Municipal Structures Act, guides this process which clearly stipulates that the mayor is appointed by the council. It is therefore not up to the MEC to remove mayors or any staff in the municipality,” she said.

When asked why Cogta waited for things to be tense before they could respond, she said: “The time given was insufficient for consultation and response on the matter,”

At the time of going to print the outcome of the meeting was not known, but it will be followed-up

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