Community marches after firings

2016-06-29 06:00
THABO MOLEBATSI (left), organiser of the march, and Tshepiso Ramakarane, municipal manager of the Setsoto Local Municipality, as he addresses the marchers during a recent march to the municipal offices. Photo: Tladi Moloi

THABO MOLEBATSI (left), organiser of the march, and Tshepiso Ramakarane, municipal manager of the Setsoto Local Municipality, as he addresses the marchers during a recent march to the municipal offices. Photo: Tladi Moloi

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FICKSBURG. – A group of about 40 community members from Meqheleng, Ficksburg, together with small business owners, marched to the offices of the Setsoto Local Municipality on Wednesday (22/06) to hand over memorandums of their grievances.

The community members, who handed over four memorandums (to the Free State Department of Social Development, the Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, the national Department of Water and Environmental Affairs and the municipality) marched from the municipal offices in the location to the offices in town.

In the memorandum directed to Edna Molewa, national minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, the community requests her intervention in what they call a “mess” at the Wood at Heart Company.

“We have 23 people in Meqheleng who were fired by the company. Their contracts were terminated on 18 March without salaries,” the memorandum reads.

“We have 20 people who sustained serious injuries at work and the company doesn’t want to pay them. Some people from our area are not working, but that company is on their home soil.

“We want those 23 fired people to be rehired with immediate effect.”

As far as the municipality and the Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs is concerned, the community states that they need to be supported in their businesses.

Meanwhile, they have called on the Department of Social Development to assist members of the community, especially those who have completed matric, with skills development programmes, learnerships or bursaries.

Tshepiso Ramakarane, municipal manager of the Setsoto Local Municipality, says stet, Tladi spoke to him after the event he has received the memorandum on behalf of Sam Mashinini, the MEC for Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs. These concerns were directed mainly by the small business people of Meqheleng, hawkers and the unemployed.

“They were simply venting their frustrations about a lack of job opportunities and support for their small business enterprises. The memorandum directed to the municipality is in relation to support for small business, but also to address the issues of unemployment,” says Ramaka­rane. He says it was a disciplined and peaceful march, which was held in the spirit of the Constitution, stating that people can express themselves freely.

“Some of the issues raised are overall national issues spurred by the shrinking economy, which impacts on a lack of growth and results in job losses and the inability to create jobs going forward. However, we have a role to play, because we have committed ourselves to assisting the community.”

Ramakarane says it is not necessary for him to raise concerns that the seven-day time frame set for a response was very short.

“But it is an indication of impatience and frustration on the part of our people. I might feel it is too short, but one day more without hope or food on the table is one day too long.”

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