Peace at sitting

2010-06-04 00:00

DESPITE fears the politically volatile area of Non­goma would become a scene of tension between the ANC and IFP at a sitting of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature in the area, the event was concluded yesterday without any incidents of violence.

The visit to the Zululand district, which also saw various government departments literally “camping” at Mthashana FET College for three days, was part of its constitutional mandate to enhance public participation in the functioning of the legislature and to deepen democracy.

A report with responses to community concerns was also presented.

The sitting was opened by the speaker, Neliswa Nkonyeni, and addressed by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, Premier Zweli Mkhize and the newly appointed Zululand district mayor, Blessed Gwala.

Amid a heavy security presence, thousands of people from the five municipalities that make up the district were bused to the function from Vryheid, ­eDumbe, Nongoma, Olundi and Phongolo.

The gathering was preceded by a visit to the area by a multi-party oversight committee of the legislature.

It visited all areas in the district, canvassing community grievances, which were referred to various government departments to prepare responses to them.

During the sittings, members of the public were also given an opportunity to raise their concerns about the performance of various government departments in their areas.

Addressing the opening, Nkonyeni said: “This government has identified five priorities which are job creation, improving education, health, fighting crime and rural development.

“Many parts of Zululand are still under-developed and it is for this reason that we have visited the area in order to familiarise ourselves with your problems and the provincial government has put together a report responding to your grievances.

In his address, King Zwelithini reiterated his concerns about the deteriorating state of the buildings of the former KwaGqikazi College of Education, which is now Mthashana FET College, where the gathering was held.

He said the college has been turned into “a den of prostitutes and rascals,” and called on the provincial government to intervene.

It is believed that the king’s outburst was prompted by the fact that while Mthashana FET college is still functioning as a college, a number of homeless people have moved to the institution.

He also hit out at local residents who had previously disrupted functions in the area when ANC MECs came to launch development projects.

Although the sittings were characterised by robust party politicking, especially between ANC and IFP, it did not get out of hand.

Nkonyeni had to intervene from time to time, calling for order, because partisan members of the public sometimes disrupted the proceedings by heckling and clapping.

Members of the public benefitted from the presence of various government departments as they had an opportunity to apply for identity documents, social grants, free seeds and other government services.

Hawkers, too, had a field day.

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