THE director of the Gay and Lesbian Network in Pietermaritzburg, Anthony Waldhausen, is rallying PMB residents and organisations to come together as a umbrella body to establish a new residents and ratepayers association to deal with the challenges of the municipality.Waldhausen explained that he called a public meeting on August 29 at the YMCA to rally the community.“At the meeting it was decided to get residents and ratepayers to revive, for residents and ratepayers to organise themselves and to deal with issues in their respective areas,” said Waldhausen, adding that he had joined with Jacyn Fanner, chairperson of the Cleland Residents and Ratepayers Association, and Kantha Naidoo, a resident from Lincoln Meade, to work together to fast-track the establishment of an association in PMB. “Already Cleland, Scottsville and Woodlands have been active and we combined our efforts to explore areas to establish new resident and ratepayer associations,” said Waldhausen. Last Wednesday, Waldhausen and the team hosted a public meeting in Lincoln Meade.“Residents were mobilised, and about 60 residents attended the meeting. We elected 15 members of the community to serve on the Lincoln Meade Residents and Ratepayers committee,” said Waldhausen, adding that on November 27 they adopted the Lincoln Meade Residents and Ratepayers Association constitution and elected office bearers of the association. Furthermore, Waldhausen promised that on December 8 they will be launching the Sobantu Residents and Ratepayers Association at the Sobantu Community Hall at 2 pm. In explaining the idea behind establishing an umbrella body, he said the idea is for residents and ratepayers in PMB to take back the city and for each area to have a residents and ratepayers association so they will be able to deal with their different issues in their community.“With the current residents and ratepayers associations, we will form an interim committee so that we can start the process to start the umbrella body and develop a constitution. We hope to start this process in January 2020,” he said, further stressing that the umbrella body will be non-political, accountable and transparent.“[We will be] united in our diversity, be an advocacy and pressure group that provides solutions and roots out corruption in all spheres of society,” said Waldhausen, who added that the umbrella body will play a catalyst role of uniting residents, businesses, non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations, and civil society. For more information, residents can contact Waldhausen at 072 536 2978, Fanner at 082 863 0291 or Naidoo at 067 759 2908.