by Benny Mojela
The residents of Extensions Nine, 10, Transit Camp, Phumlani and Enkanini arrived in droves to the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) meeting for Ward Five at the Extension Nine community hall on 22 March.
The IDP meetings are a once-a-year opportunity for residents in every Ward to freely vent any frustrations they have with the slow pace of development and service delivery in Makhanda.
Mayor Yandiswa Vara reiterated that the municipality intended to create jobs through road paving projects and was hoping to solve the water crisis when the James Kleynhans Treatment Plant was upgraded.
But discontented residents raised many complaints. Sibongiseni Phila said houses and a hall were built in 2002 but the hall wasn’t plastered and they also experienced “problems” with the houses. Phila said residents raised these concerns but the municipality did not offer solutions. Phila added that he was unhappy with the slow pace of development generally, and that the municipal leaders did not spend time interacting with the residents who elected them.
Nokulunga Rharmans said the residents of the Transit Camp have been waiting for the municipality to include them in a ward committee. She added that Transit Camp residents had not been informed about the meeting and that was why many had not attended.
Vara told the 110 residents present at the meeting that rugby, cricket and other infrastructure had been vandalised and that the municipality found it difficult to build more infrastructure if the residents did not care for the amenities they had. But resident Bongani Nhase said the social ills of Makhanda would only disappear once everyone was able to “put bread on the table”. He said people were largely unemployed and as a result, they resorted to crime, drugs, and vandalism. Nhase welcomed the report and said he hoped the mayoral committee would fix all the problems raised by community members.
Resident Nombulelo Budaza spoke out against the failure of the municipality to provide a regular refuse removal service in the area. Budaza said in the past, there were no informal, outdoor dumpsites in Extension 10 because the municipality was doing its work properly. There would be no dumping sites if the municipality took the garbage in time, Budaza added, saying the municipality was shifting the blame to the community unfairly.
Budaza said sometimes, residents went without water for three days consecutively, and said the municipality must step in and provide each house with a Jojo water tank instead of continuing to promise that everyone would receive water all the time once the dam upgrade was completed.
“We are not saying rush the people building the dam, but we’re trying to meet you halfway so we can fix the water issue,” said Budaza. She praised the Social Employment Fund project being run by the National Arts Festival, saying “I would like to express gratitude to the people at the Monument. Because of them, 70% of the people in eRhini are working”.
The meeting was also addressed by resident Boniswa Makasi who expressed her concerns about the ANC’s prospects in the upcoming 2024 national elections. Makasi said in 2016, she had mobilised residents door to door to vote ANC. The ANC had promised residents that had sewage leaking into their homes that their problems would be addressed, but seven years later, those issues are not solved. Makasi said she would not go back to the same households and make promises for the 2024 elections unless the current problems are solved, citing the case of a disabled resident who had been forced to lie in bed watching sewage seep into her house for years.