Residents demand jobs at project

2019-10-30 06:02
photo: andile sithole Community members gathered outside the offices of uMvoti Municipality last Tuesday.

photo: andile sithole Community members gathered outside the offices of uMvoti Municipality last Tuesday.

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CONSTRUCTION work resumed on Friday, October 25 at an electricity project in Muden after a group of residents brought the project to a halt for more than 30 days as they demanded jobs.

The locals, who claimed to have been promised job opportunities before the project started, arrived at the site at the Oshikishini area in Muden and threatened to stop all the construction work if the constructor did not give them jobs.

Community Liaison Officer Jabulani Nxumalo told the Gazette that he was manhandled when three angry men arrived at the construction site.

“I reported the matter to the SAPS in Muden and a case was registered. But, after we had a meeting last week, I decided to withdraw the case on condition that should they [suspects] come back and attack me at the site, I will reopen a case against them,” he said. A source at the Muden Police Station confirmed the incident.

On Tuesday, October 22 Muden residents and construction workers staged a protest outside the offices of uMvoti Municipality, accusing Ward Councillor Bhojabhoja Dlamini of sowing division within the community.

Community leader Jeffry Ngobese said: “[Regarding] the Oshikishini farm, the community has been fighting for ownership for the past 20 years. The matter was taken to court and the community won the case.

“Residents had no access to clean water and electricity but, when the court ruled in favour of the community, government then started providing basic services to the community,” Ngobese said.

According to Ngobese the project was launched a month ago but the protest saw it come to a standstill for more than 30 days.

“The mayor of uMvoti Municipality [Thami Ngubane] visited the area three months ago to launch the project. He made it crystal clear that the municipality would be at the forefront of the project to make sure that it runs smoothly without any problems.

“The community of Oshikishini has been struggling to access basic services for the past 20 years while the ownership of the farm was still in the hands of the farmers.

“Upon launching the project, Ngubane emphasised that the recruitment process will be advertised in the local newspaper. Thereafter an advert was published in the Greytown Gazette. Members of the community who qualified applied and followed all the processes.

“We established that while the recruitment process was underway, Councillor Dlamini was busy mobilising the community and promising supporters of his political party [Inkatha Freedom Party] jobs.

“When the project started, a handful of people who were employed by the ward councillor threatened to stop the construction work — saying they were already employed by the ward councillor,” said Ngobese.

Ngobese said a community meeting was called to remedy the situation however, he said the meeting did not yield any positive results.

“Some of these community members demanded to be employed as managers and security guards. There was no way the constructor could have employed people who did not have the required skills for the projects,” Ngobese said.

Ngobese accused Dlamini of giving jobs to his pals in all community projects.

The Greytown Gazette contacted Dlamini for comment. He denied all the allegations made against him, saying it was a political plot orchestrated by some senior members of the community who want to tarnish his name and remove him from his position as ward councillor. “The allegations made against me are not true. I am not sowing division in the community. “The constructor approached me as the ward councillor and asked me to call for a public meeting to explain to the community about project. The contractor also asked me, in my capacity as the ward councillor, to select people who were going to work at the project. To my surprise, the contractor did not come back to me but a few days later I saw adverts on the poles, advertising vacancies at the construction site. We were all shocked.

“When the construction work started, the first people who were hired at a community meeting were not happy and accused the municipality of being biased,” he said.

Dlamini also denied that he was giving jobs to his pals and family members.

“He [Ngobese] is misleading the community. The majority of construction workers working on the project are members of the ANC and not the IFP,” Dlamini said. Attempts to get a comment from Umvoti Municipality were unsuccessful at the time of going to print.

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