MEC and Mayor directly to blame for service delivery protest damages and injuries

John Cupido MPL

DA Constituency Leader for the Chris Hani District

Local Government MEC, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, and Inkwanca Mayor, Mthandazo Qamgwana, must be held 100% responsible for the suffering of the Molteno community before and after service delivery protest.

On Wednesday the 24th July, a service delivery protest got out of hand and has subsequently brought all services in Molteno to come to a complete standstill.

The Mayor has chosen to completely run away from the situation and strangle the Molteno community with the complete removal of electricity and municipal services as punishment for revolting against him.

Below is a step-by-step account of the situation at hand:

  • The Stormberg Biltong Factory called a march to complain about the fact that they only have electricity from the Inkwanca Municipality in the day up to 17h00, then they get cut for the night.
  • This directly affects their productivity and so far their fuel costs for their generator since the first transformer blew in March amounts to over R684 000.
  • The owner of the factory wants to close the factory, because of his financial losses and because he is not producing optimally.
  • This will cause between 60 – 100 job losses.
  • The owner has already moved one product to Port Elizabeth, causing casuals to lose their jobs.
  • SANCO joined the march and it was them that refused to disperse when asked by the police and continued to march, they called for the resignation of the Mayor. (inability to fix the problem since March when transformer blew).
  • SANCO’s refusal to disperse caused the march to become violent with the SAPS resorting to the use of rubber bullets. Side-note: It was reported to the DA that the SAPS was also firing randomly at people that were clearly not involved in the march.
  • On Thursday, the municipality closed its doors. It was reported that they fear for their lives.
  • However, on Friday it was still not opened. Effectively meaning that all municipal services, especially the sale of prepaid electricity came to a sudden halt in Molteno.
  • There have been no reports of any threats being made to the lives of the Mayor or municipal workers if they were to open prepaid electricity sales and reinstate services.
  • The municipality itself is the sole retailer of prepaid electricity in the Inkwanca municipal area, not petrol stations or convenience stores as in other municipalities.DA Councillor Magda Botha tried to call the Municipal Manager and Mayor on Friday, they did not take her call or get back to her.
  • Cllr. Botha phoned the CFO, and it was reported to her that the Municipal Manager is only allowing the office to open on Monday the 29th July 2013.
  • This despite the fact that no one could buy prepaid electricity even though there have been no protests since the initial one.
  • It is obvious the Mayor and the Municipal Manager have ignored all pleas and/or orders given to them to reopen the office.
  • It was not just the offices that were closed, but the order went out that no municipal worker is allowed to work, not even the essential services.
  • All the keys to the vehicles and the office were taken to Sterkstroom.
  • Some parts of town have been without water since Wednesday due to a water pipe burst and it not being attended to due to municipal employees not working.
  • The streets are still littered with rocks etc, and no clean-up has been done since Wednesday’s march. This has made it dangerous for vehicles driving through Molteno.
  • When residents of Molteno went to Sterkstroom to buy prepaid electricity they were told to return to Molteno to buy electricity.
  • The Molteno community is still sitting without water and electricity and the Mayor and all relevant municipal officials are either refusing to answer calls or have just switched their phones off.
  • MEC Qoboshiyane has chosen not to reply to voice and text messages about the situation or deal with the situation at hand.

The Democratic Alliance fears that the attitude of the MEC, Mayor and the Municipal Manager is escalating the situation in Molteno.

SANCO informed Cllr. Botha that they plan to protest on Monday against the refusal to open the office for prepaid electricity sales and the municipality’s refusal to deliver basic services with the poorest of the people being affected the worst.

Judging by what happened at the Wednesday march, it is clear that tomorrow’s march may become violent and destructive, causing significant destruction and the very real possibility of injury and/or death of protestors and innocent bystanders.

The MEC, Mayor and Municipal Manager must be responsible for any and all losses, damage or injury caused due to lack of service delivery and as a result of their poor leadership and inability/refusal to deal with the situation.