Leadership split amid tensions

2018-07-24 06:00

Fractured relations between two leaders of Parkwood residents’ ongoing need for land and housing opportunities have sparked renewed tensions in the area­. Dominique Booysen and Paul Phillips were initially chosen to represent the residents, but since a series of meetings last week and fresh protest action on Friday 20 July, the two have decided to part ways.

After meeting with the provincial department of human settlements a month ago, it was requested that a month be given to assess the way forward.

Booysen, the leader of the area’s backyarders’ association, and Phillips, convener of the Voice of Parkwood, were tasked with funnelling residents’ grievances when dealing with local and provincial government.

It was previously reported (“Community awaits next session”, People’s Post, 10 July) that the larger leadership group, which was formed in the wake of violent uprising at the end of April, started to become unsettled due to the differing mandates of each organisation.

A community meeting was held in the area last week to establish a new leadership structures for the area.

However, Phillips has publicly stated that he is no longer a part of the leadership group and has distanced himself from the backyarders’ association, while Booysen has referred all requests for a response to Phillips and refused to provide any feedback relating to the breakdown in understanding.

“Once again I don’t condone the violence and I don’t stand for criminality and what has happened has been unfortunate. That is not part of our struggle. That is not the real backyarders. The real issue for the backyarders is that there is a demand for housing for our people,” says Phillips, who maintains that he no longer is speaking for other associations in the area.

He laments the renewed “leadership crisis” in Parkwood.

“At the end of the day, the people need to decide who is going to be their leaders and who are the people who are going to drive them forward. I challenge those leaders, if they say that they are the team and they are the leaders, they must come to the fore and talk to the people and they must put their plan on the table and they must give the vision and tell the people what is the way forward,” he adds.

Ward councillor William Akim has also distanced himself from the renewed tensions.

Phillips admits that the situation in Parkwood remains tense and that it is threatening to boil over again if nobody takes responsibility for the violence which has marred the protest.

“There is unhappiness. People are directionless and there is no real leadership since I have stepped out. The guys who are there and wanted to take the lead must take the pains. In conclusion, Dominique [Booysen] publicly stated that he is the chairperson of the Parkwood Backyarders Association. So as the chairperson, you must be able to give some feedback. That is your role, you must give feedback to the media, because the media is a very important component of the struggle.”

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