The town of Balfour is situated in Dipaleseng local municipality and experienced two major service delivery protests in 2009 and last year.
The municipality, which is currently part of the Gert Sibande district municipality, is situated on the western boundary of Mpumalanga and is in the process of being transferred to Gauteng.
This is because its 38?600 or so residents are closer to health and other services offered by Gauteng. In addition to Balfour, the municipality includes the towns of Dasville, Greylingstad, Grootvlei, Val and Willemsdal.
Balfour became infamous for the violent protest in which its library was burnt down last year. This was about a year after President Jacob Zuma visited the town to address residents’ concerns after earlier violent protests.
Residents complain about the lack of employment and resent the local Burnstone Mine because they say it does not hire locals.
They also complain about the lack of housing, access to educational facilities and the high crime rate. They were not satisfied with mayor Malebane Tsotetsi’s leadership.
The Mpumalanga government has focused on the area and tried to intervene in these ways:
» Mpumalanga and Gauteng health MECs signed an agreement for Dipaleseng patients to be allowed admission to Heidelberg Hospital in Gauteng.
» The Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs has promised to hire a contractor to finish incomplete RDP houses.
» Home Affairs has extended services from two days to five days a week at the local Thusong centre.
» Mpumalanga is exploring the feasibility of establishing a further education and training college.