Angry Butterworth residents demand that premier sack mayor over lack of service delivery

2020-02-19 20:17
Oscar Mabuyane. (Netwerk24)

Oscar Mabuyane. (Netwerk24)

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A meeting between Butterworth residents and Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane turned tense on Tuesday when residents demanded that Mabuyane remove Mnquma Executive Mayor Sithembiso Ncetezo.

Residents said Ncetezo had failed to develop the town and asked him and all Mnquma ward councillors to leave the meeting, GroundUp reported.

Mabuyane addressed residents following a water protest that has now entered its second week. Shops have been closed in the Butterworth CBD and the N2 had been barricaded with burning tyres. Residents were demanding the deepening of the Gcuwa and Xilinxa dams.

Two people appeared in the Butterworth Magistrate's Court on February, 14 on charges of public violence. They were released on a warning.

At the meeting with the premier, community leader Sibabaliwe Dadaboshe told Mabuyane residents were not happy with his tardy response.

"All Mnquma ward councillors are enjoying the salary they receive every month while sitting in their offices doing nothing. I always ask myself what it is that they report to the speaker since they are not reporting to community members" said Dadaboshe.

She said Ncetezo "used platforms at funerals to swear at protesters instead of addressing the issue of a lack of service delivery in this town".

Mnquma Local Municipality spokesperson Loyiso Mpalantshane said Ncetezo would never deliberately insult the community and if there had been a misunderstanding, he would readily apologise.

He said ward councillors called regular meetings to update residents and reported back to the speaker.

Mabuyane apologised to residents for taking a long time to visit the area. He said before going to Butterworth he had spoken to Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. At the mention of Sisulu's name, residents started shouting.

Tankers provided dirty water

"Yhoo that liar!" one resident shouted.

Community leaders helped to calm residents.

Mabuyane said since Sisulu visited the town last November, the Department of Water and Sanitation had hired nearly 50 tankers.

He said the tankers were filling 120 rain water tanks at strategic points around Butterworth. But residents said the water tankers provided dirty water.

Mabuyane said deepening the dams would not be as easy as people thought.

"Gcuwa Dam is not full of sand, as we thought. We sent engineers to check the dam and we found out that there's clay but that does not mean we are not going to dig deep," said Mabuyane.

He said other options were to build up the walls around the two dams or to pipe water from the Tsomo River through the R735m Ngqamakwe project to the Gcuwa Dam. The project would provide a sustainable solution for Butterworth and had been brought forward to the current financial year.

He begged residents to be patient and said water tankers would be sent to Butterworth again to deliver water.

Before leaving the area, Mabuyane visited some of the boreholes, and residents asked him to drink the water or at least use it to wash, but he refused.

Residents said they would suspend the protest while waiting for the trucks to deliver water.

Mabuyane also promised to look into the matter of ward councillors who had not called general meetings with residents. He said he would return to the area in three weeks.

Read more on:    service delivery
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