Weenen community not interested in dancing, but service delivery

2015-05-11 07:57
Willies Mchunu

Willies Mchunu

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A LEADER of the Weenen community has accused the provincial government of forgetting about the because they are just farm workers.

“We are just people who live on farms they do not care for,” said community leader Evans Sosibo.

He was speaking to The Witness on the sidelines of an urgent Imbizo held at eMathenisini sports ground in Weenen on Friday.

The provincial government sent three MECs to the area to calm tensions, but the trio, MEC Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Willies Mchunu; MEC for Social Development Weziwe Thusi and Agriculture MEC Cyril Xaba, largely met with an unenthusiastic response.

The dissatisfied community first made the headlines when they blocked the main Weenen road that connects the small town to Greytown, Colenso, Estcourt and the main N3 route, a protest they repeated two weeks ago and on Wednesday last week.

Their demands are for water and electricity.

They have also asked the government to solve the problem of poor cellphone reception in large parts of that area.

Sosibo said in 2013, they marched and delivered a memorandum of demands to the provincial offices of the department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), but Cogta never responded.

“The community has been waiting [for Cogta] since 2013. It got to a point where this issue became very emotive and they decided to take the step and close the road to get the attention of government,” he said.

Mchunu met with the community on Friday, responding in detail about government actions in addressing the list of demands in the memorandum.

The members of his audience were, however, hard to please.

A mix of youth and adults, they remained stoic, listening intently and silently.

They did not even respond to MEC Xaba’s attempts to get them to dance to sounds of gospel music blaring through the music system.

Many only spoke to disagree with what government officials were saying or to shout struggle slogans.

Mchunu told of the hardship faced by residents because of the lack of water.

They are drinking water laced with sewage because a sewerage pipe is leaking into the river they use for consumption.

“The community says it bad enough they have to drink water with cattle and donkeys, now they have to drink dirt coming from the sewerage pipe,” Mchunu said.

He told the community that money had been set aside to fix the leaking pipe before the end of May.

There were tense moments when it became clear that an official from Eskom, who was supposed to deliver a plan of how and when electricity would be installed, did not attend.

Mchunu temporarily halted the Imbizo to try to find the official without success. Another community leader, Sthando Dladla, said it was hard to believe that after years of waiting for electricity, there was still no indication of when it will be installed.

“We thought today we would be told electricity will be installed on these days. In this area we do not know the feeling of saying, ‘The electricity is out, we do not when it’s coming back’ because we have never had it,” he said.

Xaba said the provincial government would also assist the community in many other ways, including investing in the farms that have collapsed to create jobs and to bring Ithala bank and the post office closer to look after the community’s banking needs

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