Community protest - demand ‘the R15 million’

2017-11-08 06:01
PHOTO: makhosandile zuluA protester holds up a placard demanding that people living with disabilities in Ward 21 should be employed at the youth centre.

PHOTO: makhosandile zuluA protester holds up a placard demanding that people living with disabilities in Ward 21 should be employed at the youth centre.

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DAMBUZA and KwaMachibisa residents protested outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall on Tuesday after it was brought to their attention that the Msunduzi Municipality had lost about R15 million; money that was meant to purchase land to build RDP houses on.

“The municipality says money has gone missing, around R15 million. That money is meant to buy land,” said Wonder Shezi, a community member and secretary of the ANC branch in Ward 21.

He said the RDP housing project should have already begun because the majority of residents in these areas live in mud structures. Other demands include that water be piped into yards and a sewerage network installed for these areas.

“If the R15 million becomes available again our community will get proper housing,” Shezi said.

He said the area’s councillor had called a public meeting earlier in the year where he said funds had been set aside for the land where the RDP housing project was to be built. “Later on the councillor called another meeting and told the community the municipality said no money has been approved for buying land for the housing project,” Shezi said.

“Municipality officials want the community and councillor to be at odds,” he said, which he believes is one reason why the municipality said there is no money for the project.

“The second reason is political since we are not on the same side [faction] politically with those within the municipality - we are in different camps and that is why they are holding back resources because they want the community to eventually be opposed to the councillor,” he said.

He said there are landowners in Dambuza who say they are willing to sell their land so the protest was to call upon the municipality to reallocate the alleged missing R15 million and get the land acquisition process under way. Protester Zamani Biyase said the community wants the KZN Premier to intervene.

Siphiwe Hadebe lives in Ward 21 with his grandmother and relatives in a rickety house.

“We are all unemployed, our house is falling apart and in our yard we no longer have space to dig another pit for a latrine,” Hadebe said.

Protester Jabu Zuma said she was there to represent people living with disabilities, like her, in Ward 21. She said the community wants the youth centre in the area to be reopened because its closure has led to an increase in drug addicts.

“People with disabilities must be employed at the youth centre. The Msunduzi Municipality and provincial government must create jobs,” she said.

Ward councillor Bhekithemba Mkhize said he understands why the community is angry because they have been waiting for the housing project to get under way for a long time.

“Ninety percent of the houses in our area are made with mud and in heavy rain they worry that their homes will collapse, and most of them are unemployed,” Mkhize said.

The councillor accused Dr Ray Ngcobo of not fulfilling his duty as a municipal official choosing rather to involve himself in politics by saying the R15 million is no longer available. He said only municipal officials and a legal team contracted by the municipality are authorised to get the land acquisition process under way, not councillors, who are political heads. “Wards 21, 22 and Ward 16 are under the ‘5 Priority Project’, which dates back to 1998, but Ngcobo fails to focus on these wards, which should be prioritised,” Mkhize said. He said once the announcement that the money was no longer available was made, the community asked him to write a letter to the municipality demanding that the money be made available. ”The letter set a seven-day deadline, which was some time last week, but there has been no response from the municipality, which is why the community is protesting.”

The Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha had not responded to questions about this matter at the time of going to print.

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