Stop cleaning the township: councillor

2010-10-10 11:18

A group of 20 unemployed Mpumalanga youth who decided to clean up the dirty streets of Dwarsloop township for free were stopped in mid-sweep by a city councillor who did not like their T-shirts.

Did the shirts show naked ladies or graphic violence?

No – the problem was far more serious.

It seems some of the youth were wearing Democratic Alliance (DA) T-shirts.

A horrified ANC councillor, Elvis Mashile, demanded they either wear them inside-out or not at all – especially as the tools they were using to clean up the township had been lent to them by the ANC-led council in Bushbuckridge.

When the youths refused to take off their shirts, Mashile took the tools – five spades, two brooms and two rakes – back to the municipal storeroom.

“We merely wanted to stop ­loitering and spend our time ­productively by doing something for our community.

But on our second day, this initiative had become a hot political issue and the municipality took its tools back,” said dreadlocked Leonard Mbambo (32).

“The councillor said the idea was good, but he could not stand the embarrassment of his ward being cleaned by DA youth using tools belonging to an ANC-led council.

“I felt insulted that I had to wear my T-shirt inside out or not wear it,” Mbambo said.

He conceded that some of them were DA members but said the ­initiative had nothing to do with campaigning for a political party.

“We are just a group of youth who are more concerned about our dirty environment than promoting our political organisations.”

The municipality has also ­withdrawn the truck that collects rubbish, so residents burn their ­rubbish in the streets.

The confrontation was in mid-September, but the group has not given up. They asked to borrow tools from community members and are getting on with their work.

Mashile admitted that the T-shirts were the problem.

“I explained to them they must not do the work while wearing promotional material of a political party. It would become a challenge to me to explain this as it is happening in my ward,” Mashile said.

“Now they can wear their T-shirts as long as they are not using municipal tools,” he added.

But Bushbuckridge municipal spokesperson Matume Malatji said the municipality supported any community initiative irrespective of the political affiliation behind it.

“The municipality supports community initiatives and service delivery is for every resident. This is shocking. We do not look at what people are wearing,” Malatji said.

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