‘They are ignoring us’

2015-08-14 08:19
The red-brick road around the City Hall.

The red-brick road around the City Hall. (Jonathan Burton)

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FIERY questions around whether the northern suburbs are being purposely ignored by the Msunduzi Municipality were raised at a mass public meeting this week.

The meeting was called on Wednesday evening by ratepayers group Msunduzi Rates Forum (MRF), who asked the community to bring forward suggestions on how to get the municipality’s attention.

“We have been raising our issues with the municipality since 2008. We have travelled through all the legal routes and held many meetings, but we keep being ignored by the mayor, municipal manager and everyone at the municipality,” said a member of the MRF, Ronnie George.

The MRF, headed by 87-year-old Babs Sithapersad, said they have signed many petitions, drawn up countless memorandums and organised a march to the municipality however “nothing was ever tabled at full council”.

“We believe that as far as the northern suburbs are concerned, the council does not care about us. We have told them that we are not happy with what we are getting and what they are taking from us. We have invited municipal managers to our meetings, but they are discourteous and don’t even respond to say they cannot attend the meetings,” said George.

Some community members said they were “fed up” with being pushed aside when most residents in the northern areas pay exorbitant rates.

“We pay for our rates. We deserve to receive the benefits. We cannot pay such high rates continuously when development only occurs in areas such as Imbali and Edendale. We should see the change here in the northern areas too. Perhaps we should stop paying rates and dry the municipality’s income and then demand our services,” said community member Venolin Govender.

The chairperson, Sithapersad, said there is “misrule” in the management of Pietermaritzburg and the elderly residents in the city bear the brunt.

“The community is ageing. The youngsters are leaving the city to find jobs elsewhere and the old people who worked hard and built their homes are now being punished by high rates and tariffs. We sincerely hope we can free the Pietermaritzburg residents in a peaceful way like the way Gandhi freed people in a peaceful way,” said Sithapersad.

Sithapersad picked on the city’s billion rands savings saying the municipality is proud of what they have saved but questioned what the municipality is giving back to the communities “as it is ratepayers’ money being saved”.

Economic Freedom Fighters regional chairperson Dumisane Shelembe said they are “tired of the municipality running away with residents’ money”.

Ward 31 DA councillor Rooksana Ahmed echoed the sentiments of the MRF saying her questions to the municipality regarding the added MCB charge on electricity bills were also ignored

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  rates

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