Sithole setting up task team

2019-07-17 15:00

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Fix this city or we’ll boycott paying our rates.

That’s the warning from the business sector in the CBD to Msunduzi administrator Sibusiso Sithole.

Sithole is now setting up a task team to deal with the many long-standing problems plaguing businesses in the CBD.

He met with businesses, led by the Msunduzi Economic Development Association (Meda) last week, where he heard first-hand the challenges businesses face.

Meda has for years tried to lobby Msunduzi to attend to crime, filth and a general lack of law enforcement in the CBD, which over the years has led to business closures.

Sithole told The Witness on Tuesday that there was no time­frame for when the task team will be established, but it will consist of municipal management and other stakeholders, not limited to the business fraternity.

“Obviously, there is commitment to hold another meeting with stakeholders. I have noted their suggestions on what needs to be done, and it will contribute to what we need to effect in my recovery plan,” he said.

Sithole said the meeting was a chance for him to get a sense of what “everyone has been crying about”.

“From my side, I welcome [having had] that meeting. I’m now alive to the risk Msunduzi is facing, and they [the municipality] have not been engaging fully with their stakeholders. Hopefully that engagement leads us to more positive results.”

Meda chairperson Kantha Naidoo said the frustrated business owners told Sithole that they were exploring a possible rates boycott if the situation persists, adding that the meeting was positive overall.

“Businesses are very optimistic, and we’re waiting on him to tell us about the task team. There is no time frame, but he said it will happen as soon as possible and he will act with a sense of urgency. We are optimistic he’ll take our concerns seriously,” Naidoo told The Witness.

Resolutions from the meeting were to put measures in place to attend to the daily taxi blockades at the corner of Boshoff Street and Church Street, and the cleaning of the CBD and electricity issues.

This comes as a new business association in the CBD to tackle such problems has finally formalised its name. Citizens on Patrol yesterday issued a stern warning to criminal elements, labelling them “merchants of death”.

Citizens on Patrol — or Cop — yesterday released its first public statement.

The Witness reported this month that the initiative was set up after years of inaction by Msunduzi to attend to business’ problems.

“Merchants of death, drug addicts, criminals, corrupt courts and crooked cops and their ilk have absolute disregard for the law and have enjoyed free rein to strike fear and terror into the minds and hearts of the helpless people of Pietermaritzburg,” the statement said.

“The time has come to say ‘enough is enough’ and that Cop, together with the help of law-abiding citizens, will take back our streets …”

Cop invited members of the public to join their cause. They can be contacted via WhatsApp on 064 911 9118, or contact them via e-mail on citizensonpatrolsa@gmail.com.

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