Collins Chabane stuck in the Malamulele middle

2013-10-13 06:00

Just more than four years ago, the residents of Xikundu village threw a huge celebration for Collins Chabane.

Chabane, who had just been appointed to President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet, was presented with a leopardskin – often worn by traditional leaders and a symbol of bravery.

But now, villagers’ attitudes towards Chabane, who is minister in the presidency for performance monitoring and evaluation, have soured.

That’s because Xikundu is a part of the Malamulele area, whose residents, fed up with what they say is appalling service delivery, are fighting for their own municipality.

A chief from Chabane’s village, Hosi Xikundu, reportedly told residents last Sunday: “If Collins Chabane does not want to give us our own municipality then he must say so.”

The rumour mill in Malamulele went into overdrive, as residents told City Press they’d heard Xikundu was going to banish Chabane permanently from the village he was born in 43 years ago.

These seemed partially based on fact: two weeks ago, City Press reported that Chabane’s family had moved out of their Xikundu home.

“There were rumours that the minister’s family would be attacked and we contacted the family, who opted to move to a safer place. We’re making regular rounds to ensure police visibility,” the police’s Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said at the time.

Chabane himself denied the move.

A source said this week that the family was still not back at the house, and police were still monitoring the property.

Chief Xikundu has denied ever saying he will send Chabane packing, but says he’s expecting the minister to use his power to support the community in its battle.

“At the meeting (last) Sunday the community accused me of being from Chabane’s village and that I was with him in refusing the community a municipality. The problem is we don’t even see (Chabane) in the village and I don’t even have his number,” Chief Xikundu said.

“I am hoping to get his contact details so that I can personally plead with him to help us win this battle. We’re expecting him to help his own people in many things including service delivery.”

The Malamulele demarcation task team’s Noel Manganyi, though, defended Chabane.

“What they are suggesting is unfounded because Collins Chabane has been very supportive and has been giving us some advice in his personal capacity,” Manganyi said.

“I was surprised when Xikundu said the minister must say so if he doesn’t want to give us our own municipality because it is not in his powers to decide on the matter.”

Residents were set to meet today to decide whether to begin a “total shutdown” of Malamulele from tomorrow as they continue their battle to be removed from the control of the Thulamela local municipality.

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