No to mediator chosen ‘without consultation’

2017-05-30 06:02

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Masiphumelele community leaders have rejected the mediator appointed by the City of Cape Town.

The mediator was to work to resolve ongoing conflict between Masiphumelele residents and City officials and “a consultative process with all Masiphumelele stakeholders to improve communication” was set to take place in upcoming weeks (“Mediator to invite talks”, People’s Post, 23 May).

Relations deteriorated earlier this year following a government report that the City had not been providing adequate service delivery to the area. The report was subsequently withdrawn after it was found the issues were part of a more complicated government process.

In March, City officials’ attempt to discuss service delivery in Masiphumelele were met with anger during a community meeting (“Residents have no time for delay”, People’s Post, 21 March).

After the initial announcement of plans to appoint a mediator, community leaders in Masiphumelele responded in a statement: “We feel our efforts have finally resulted in this appointment of an independent mediator and discussions can now ­resume.”

However, after a meeting with City officials, the conflict resolution specialist appointed by the City “was rejected by the Masiphumelele Leadership Structure”, says chairperson Tshepo Moletsane in a second statement. “This was because, while we appreciate the gesture of independent mediators being financed by the City, the mediators themselves were appointed without the consultation of our leadership team. This goes against the entire principle of mediation where both conflicting sides must agree to the neutral body.”

The leaders have put forward two candidates to act as mediators. “We will wait to hear whether the City officials are amenable to our suggestion of the two mediators and then will issue a further statement about what has actually been agreed by the leadership, not what others claim has been agreed,” the second statement says.

The community leaders rejected the mediator as the appointment “was not transparent with no clear qualifications”, Moletsane told People’s Post.

He adds there is a need for mediation “only when there is a conflict and deadlock”.

Going forwardMoletsane says the leaders have specific requirements for the mediation process, including for the process to be fair and the electrification of all outstanding sections of Masiphumelele.

Despite several assurances that Moletsane would provide further comment, he had not responded by the time of going to print.

Eddie Andrews, Mayco member (South), says the appointed mediator, IR Change, has begun to independently engage with all the stakeholders to determine if there is a need for mediation. “Only once this process has run its course, will there be clarity on whether mediation has indeed been refused. The consultative process is ongoing. In the interim, the City will continue to deliver services to Masiphumelele,” he says.

“The process is at the pre-mediation stage which is to determine the views of all of the stakeholder groups with regard to mapping and planning a way forward. There will be clarity on the form and course that the facilitated discussions should take only once this process has run its course.

“In the interim, we will continue to work with all of the Masiphumele stakeholders to facilitate improved working relationships and expanded service delivery in Masiphumelele,” he says.

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