Written by Thamsanqa Mbovane
Office of Uitenhage ward 45 councillor shut since July 2018.
Residents of ward 45 in Duduza, Uitenhage are in a catch-22 situation. Although to some extent it is of their own making, or at least of the making of their community leaders. The problem is that they have no way of being served by their municipality.
This situation arose last year July when angry residents accused Councillor Siphiwo Plaatjies (ANC) of employing a “tea girl” on a sewer pipe installation project. They set fire to his office. It has been closed since July 2018.
If Ward 45 residents go to the office of ward 47 Councillor Nontuthuzelo Skweyiya (ANC), a sign tells tells them that people from ward 45 cannot be served in ward 47. Instead they are directed to the Kwanobuhle local municipality building where their councillor is temporarily housed.
But Thembinkosi Mooi of Duduza said residents are chased away from this temporary office at the municipal building. He says he was told: “Go to the office you shut down!”
This however is denied by Councillor Plaatjies. “Whoever says we deny people access to services has never been to our new office. We serve all the residents.” He said though that people have top pay R20 for transport to and from the temporary office.
But community leaders don’t want to reopen the Ward 45 office. “We will open the office when Councillor Plaatjies repairs our RDP houses,” said voting district committee member Zukiswa Magadi.
She said her four-roomed RDP house was badly built. “We have been sent from pillar to post,” she says, trying to find out about the budget to repair their cracked houses. “They were built by unscrupulous people quickly … Greedy, inexperienced contractors were told that the more houses they built, the more money they’ll make.”
She said, “We were happy to see RDP houses … We said at last shacks have been replaced … Later we found out it was a hit and run project.”
Her neighbour, Dlelekazi Tyika, said, “We are a laughing stock in Duduza. The windows of my house just fall out one by one.”
“At times, I had to tie empty buckets onto the ceiling plank and let them hang above my bed so the rain could fall on the buckets not my bed.”
Resident Luzuko Bobani said, “The whole house is a mess … from floor to wall, doors, toilet and the zinc roof.”
Protest leader Akhona Jacobs said: “All that we are demanding are repairs of 145 RDP houses in Duduza … We also want him [Plaatjies] to refrain from ANC favouritism on jobs … The third thing we asked is he must make sure 300 stinking toilets in Gunguluza are flushing …. Then we will let him operate in his office.”
Plaatjies said that the Department of Human Settlements is handling the “service delivery” issues in his ward. “The Minister of Human Settlements Nomaindia Mfeketo has also received all priorities for my ward, and we are waiting for her response,” he said.
The councillor accused the people who are stopping his office from reopening of having party-political motives. He said they had left the ANC to join the EFF, DA and UDM.
Article originally written and published by GroundUp