Sunday Tribune: Residents give MPs a big bollocking

Residents give MPs a big bollocking

September 12, 2010 Edition 1

‘It is just so infuriating that all our requests are never met and the promises made to us to vote still haven’t been fulfilled. We have had enough – that is why I didn’t attend this meeting because I was going to be very angry with them,” says 83-year-old Thandiwe Ndaweni of Mphithini in Bulwer, outside Ixopo.

A short distance away, members of the National Council of Provinces, provincial and local political leaders and officials were holding a public meeting as part of the parliamentarians oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal.

At around the same time (as on every other day), four schoolgirls with black buckets full of water on their heads walked along a rocky road, through dry grass and over a railway line to the elder’s rondawel.

Ndaweni was too angry to attend the meeting at the Mphithini Community Hall, but others used the hearing to vent their frustrations over the lack of electricity, water and toilets.

If the NCOP delegation was expecting an easy ride, it was mistaken. Instead, it found itself at the other end of some harsh words.

“Why come here to just ask us about our concerns when you yourselves can see them?” said Ntabaziyadelelana Mazibuko.

“You forget that we, the people, have the power to remove you from your positions – and we will, because you are not doing what you are supposed to be doing and that is serving the community. We are not mirrors in which you come and admire your egos. We are people who are tired and need change now.”

But NCOP deputy chairwoman Thandi Memela insisted that delegates were there to listen.

“We hear your complaints and we will ask the powers-that-be why your complaints still haven’t been dealt with,” she told residents.

“Be patient and do not lose hope, because it won’t happen overnight. We also have challenges that may prohibit us from delivering services.”

But residents said that they had already waited for years, and had been vocal about their needs.”

“We are not happy with the lack of service delivery in our community and we are tired of always telling |you the problems,” said Mneliswa Shandu. “Where is the electricity and the water that we need? How many times have we been urged to vote – yet we do not see the merits of us voting because we still have not received what is due to us? We have not seen this freedom that others enjoy. We are still suffering in the dark and no one is there to help us out.”

Sbongile Basi shared Shandu’s sentiments.

“We have no water and in our homes and that we have to share our water with cows and horses. We get sick,” she said.

“We also don’t have toilets and we have just been told by the municipality that we have to pay for people to dig the holes for us. Isn’t that what the government is there for?”

Another issue was the poor condition of the dirt road, which meant there was little or no transport available, and residents had to walk more than 10km before they can get a taxi.

“Taxis refuse to come this side because its a dirt road and it is in a bad condition,” said Muziawupheli Sosibo. “How long will it take for it to be properly fixed? We can’t even take sick people to the clinic in time, and we have to carry them for a long distance before we get a taxi.”

The meeting at Bulwer was part of this week’s programmes – alongside briefings from various government and political leaders and their officials – as Parliament put emphasis on oversight visits.


On Wednesday the NCOP delegation found itself visiting two low-cost housing projects in a province where 420 officials were suspended just last week for defrauding the KZN human settlements department of more than|R11 million. There are regular reports of shoddy workmanship, leading to the councils demolishing houses and fires in informal settlements like Kennedy Road, which often claim lives aside from people’s meagre possessions.

At one of the visited low-cost developments in Pietermaritzburg, 200 of the 1 585 homes could not be built because of space limitations – people had extended their homes on to other stands.

In both cases, it was pointed out that facilites like schools, clinics and police stations were not close by.

Mnikelo Ndabankulu, community activist group Abahlali baseMjondolo’s media liaison, said that the NCOP was just shown the “soft spots” to make it seem as though the system was working.

“If they meant business, surely they would have also addressed the issues that we have, especially areas like Kennedy Road,” he said. “Why don’t they come to us – because we know the realities the people are living in. Window-dressing the issues and acting as if the housing situation in the province is successful is misleading the public.”