By Linda Pona
Statistics SA (2019) shows that South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world, and the Eastern Cape has the highest levels of economic inequality. To show the level of inequality in the country, the stats SA report reveals that the country has been identified as one of the most unequal societies on Earth, with a per capita Gini coefficient of 0,65 in 2015. This means that there is a high level of income inequality.
in addition to high levels of income inequality, a study published in 2022 revealed that Makhanda is also managed by a municipality that is dysfunctional and has consistently failed to provide adequate support for the local economy. This dysfunction has led to the deterioration of the city, where even the most basic of services are not rendered to the members of the community. The recent IDP meeting revealed that members of the community are dissatisfied with the service they have received (or rather not) from the municipality.
In another IDP meeting held on 8 March 2022, residents voiced out that there are high levels of unemployment and a lack of support for small businesses in the town.
The recent negative Auditor General report illustrates the harsh reality that the town is in trouble due to financial mismanagement and irregular expenditure, among other issues.
Then there is the threat of moving the seat of the high court to Bhisho. Moseneke Commission of Enquiry believes that the provincial seat of the high court should move to Bhisho. Meanwhile, the Makhanda High Court Action Committee is fighting for the court to stay in Makhanda.
In a recent article in the Daily Maverick, Rhodes University Vice Chancellor Prof Sizwe Mabizela highlights the disastrous consequences the move of the high court will have on the town. Especially considering that this would lead to the loss of approximately 5000 jobs in the town – that is a loss of approximately R230 million – R370 million of Makhanda’s already fragile economy.
While the move of the Makhanda high court seemingly makes sense, according to the law, surely the devastating impact it will have on the citizens of Makhanda should count against the move. Have the other four attempts to move it not proven as much?
In 1998, the Hexter Commission of Enquiry found that there would be a devastating ripple effect should the seat of the High Court Move from Makhanda (then Grahamstown). The Hexter Commission of Enquiry demonstrated the effects of the move would be ‘nothing short of catastrophic for a large segment of the city’s community’.
If two decades later, we find ourselves in the same socio-economic position; surely it would make sense to keep the high court in Makhanda.