Councillor talks back

2016-11-01 06:00

After some of the actions taken and various allegations made against me by members of the informal settlement community association, I feel it is incumbent on me to set the record straight so that the community of ward 67 has the real facts.

On Tuesday 4 October residents took to the streets in an apparent service delivery protest, claiming, among other things, that I do not meet with the community or inform them of meetings or developments in the area (“‘Councillor is not for us’”, People’s Post, 11 October).

This is simply not true.

I have been active in the community since day one and I have met with the camp leaders in their respective camps dating back to August and September.

. I had a minuted meeting with the camp leaders on 26 August and launched an ECD in Overcome Heights.

. I did a full site visit with one of the camp leaders in Military Heights on 29 August.

. I had a meeting with the Overcome action committee on 30 August.

. I did a full site visit in Village Heights in which Aisha Davids (resident of ward 110) accompanied me on 31 August.

. I did a full site visit at Hillview Heights on 1 September.

. I did a full site visit at the Chinatown informal settlement on 1 September.

. I held a feedback meeting with camp leaders on 9 September and none of the camp leaders attended.

. I attended to a fire in Military Heights on 12 September.

. I met with the camp leader from Overcome Heights and did a full site visit on 15 September.

. I attended to a fire in Overcome Heights on 25 September.

I have repeatedly stated that should community leaders wish to arrange meetings with me, they can contact me on my phone or email me or make an appointment to see me at my office, whereby I can set up a meeting with each camp leader, as the dynamics of each camp are different but similar in nature.

I know this as I receive updates and feedback on issues in the informal settlement timeously from the City of Cape Town fieldworkers who work in the informal settlement.

As the ward councillor, I have been mandated to serve the entire community and many residents take the time to schedule appointments to see me on issues that are important to them.

As such it needs to be pressed upon members of the community leadership that it is not acceptable to simply barge into my office whenever it suits them and disrupt the meeting I am having with someone who took the time to schedule a meeting with me, and then claim that I have no time to see them.

While community leaders do have a role to play, the actions from the current leadership have been concerning and they have sought to approach the daily and community press with their skewed version of events.

I believe that the various allegations against me, especially their claims regarding a shortage of housing in the ward, stem from the fact that it has come to our attention that dwellings in the informal settlements are being leased, which is illegal.

The current community leadership is upset because an investigation has been launched into this practice.

During the protest these community leaders caused damage to City infrastructure that will now need to be repaired with funds that could rather have been used for service delivery purposes.

I would like to reiterate that I am always available to meet with community leaders or residents, except when I have a workshop or when I am on training or in a statutory meeting.

I have had two meetings with camp leaders to talk about their actions and to have them air their views in a constructive manner.

I have also had a meeting with City officials and the camp leaders to clarify the concerns they’ve had.

And in addition to these I had another meeting with all safety agencies, including police, and the camp leaders to talk about crime concerns in the informal settlement.

Councillor Gerry Gordon Ward 67

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