Over the past two months, there has been protesting action in Mangaung’s townships just about every week. This protest action has been in the form of throwing rubbish into busy roads and barricading these roads with rocks and burning tyres.
Over the weeks, residents of Phahameng, Bochabela, Phelindaba, Phase 6 and 7 explained to Courant that they want two things: namely, jobs they were promised during election campaigns dating back as far back as when Thabo Manyoni was still the Mayor of Mangaung, as well as the delivery of basic services such as waste collection, which has been slow since late 2017 in many townships in the Bloemfontein area.
Executive Mayor, Olly Mlamleli also recently called a meeting at her chambers, where she interacted with ward leaders from ward 1 to ward 10, explaining to them that she cannot promise people jobs as there are various processes to be followed and she does not want to be held ransom by community members for promises she has never made to them.
Political analyst at the University of the Free State, Dr Sethulego Matebesi said ongoing protests are a sign that the members of the public are slowly beginning to lose faith in the ANC party leaders, who are currently leading the municipality and provincial government. “I foresee a situation where the protests will continue around Bloemfontein and possibly even spread into surrounding towns like Dewetsdorp and the like,” Matebesi said.
Meanwhile, municipal spokesperson, Qondile Khedama sent a number of pictures showing the municipality addressing the waste collection backlog. Khedama said while the backlog was not yet fully addressed, most areas in the metro had been covered and he further stated that he believes all areas would be covered by Thursday afternoon.
Speaking on the matter of ongoing protests, Khedama said where applicable, Mlamleli will address urgent issues herself, however, there are municipal processes to be followed.
“The issue regarding protests is receiving attention through Ward Councillors, and if it’s an issue of a responsible Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) e.g. waste management, it’s elevated to the relevant MMC. The Mayoral Committee has a responsibility to advise the Executive Mayor on issues in their respective directorates, and she personally intervenes on matters that need immediate attention,” Khedama said.
Recently appointed Provincial Manager at the South African Human Resources Commission (SAHRC) in the Free State, Thabang Kheswa, earlier this year vowed to ensure that the human rights of residents in Mangaung are not infringed upon.
He said it is in his plans to ensure that the commission holds the municipality to account for the delivery of basic services and further stated that it would work closely with the municipality on this matter as it was one “close to his heart”.
At the time of going to print, Kheswa had not yet responded to Courant on which processes disgruntled residents can follow with regards to reporting on the municipality’s failure to deliver on basic services.