Fuming over municipal service delivery issues and their ward councillor Andile Marasi, residents of Nolukhanyo township in Bathurst took to the streets for two days last week.
Although Marasi asserted that the march had no leader, Phaphama Nobebe was willing to talk about it on behalf of the other protestors.
“The community of Bathurst decided to stand up against the cronyism leadership of their councillor Andile Marasi,” Nobebe said. Detailing the community’s grievances Nobebe said Marasi had failed to implement fundamental changes since he assumed the office.
According to Nobebe, the main idea of the protest was for the community to meet the mayor, Phindile Fax, but his unavailability on Wednesday further escalated the situation.
“The community decided to kindly ask councillor Marasi to make [a plan] and ask the mayor to meet with the community, especially considering that the mayor has never attended any of his mayoral imbizos in Bathurst,” he said.
But Marasi told them that the mayor was in East London and would only meet the demonstrators at 7pm last Wednesday, something he did not do according to Nobebe.
Nobebe said if the mayor had availed himself, the situation could have been resolved before it got out of hand.
“When we asked for the mayor, Marasi left us and got into his car. He then came back with the speaker [Vivian Maphaphu]. We turned them back because they live here in Bathurst and know our problems. We wanted the mayor who does not know our problems,” said Nobebe.
Nobebe highlighted the community’s string of demands which included the removal of Marasi as Ward 5 councillor.
“The councillor must vacate his office so that a competent person who genuinely cares for the people can assume it,” he said.
The community also wanted the mayor to tell them about local economic development plans for Bathurst.
“The municipality must create an environment where businesses will come and invest. The investment of such businesses will, in turn, create sustainable employment for people and not EPWPs [Expanded Public Works Programme],” Nobebe said.
“The community demands the building of flushing toilets as well as the removal of sewage from toilets which are full. Learnerships from sector departments must be advertised to everyone. Only ANC members who are close to the councillor are given learnerships,” he said.
Nobebe said Faxi eventually showed up on the second day of the protest and promised to respond to the aforementioned demands on December 14.
“If responses do not have time frames then the community will have no choice but to utilise their right to protest,” Nobebe added.
Asked for comment, Marasi declined, saying he could not respond to the media about personal attacks against him. “Only God knows,” he said. “As for the municipality I am still waiting for the response before I give a feedback.”
Municipal spokesman Cecil Mbolekwa said: “The mayor made an undertaking to the people who protested, that after 14 days he will provide the community with feedback. It is only fair to give the mayor an opportunity to prepare proper responses. Remember there are issues that were raised by the community that do not necessary fall within the municipality, those issues need enough time to be responded to. In fact all the issues that were raised the municipality has noted and [they] will be responded to,” he said.