El­dos takes Makhura to task

CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NHLABATHI hlengiwe.nhlabathi@city­press.co.za

The largely coloured com­mu­nity of El­do­rado Park this week took Gaut­eng Premier David Makhura to task in a no-holds-barred com­mu­nity meet­ing, telling him they had grown dis­il­lu­sioned af­ter 30 years of ne­glect.

Their over­whelm­ing feel­ing of not be­long­ing has been vo­calised for many years and this week, at the meet­ing, the heat was on Makhura as he spoke of a trust deficit due to gover­nance fail­ures.

In El­dos, as the place in Jo­han­nes­burg South is pop­u­larly known, res­i­dents voted over­whelm­ingly for the DA both in the 2011 lo­cal elec­tions and in last year’s gen­eral elec­tions. The DA won 65% of the vote in the gen­eral elec­tion, while the ANC se­cured only 27% and the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers a mere 4%.

Set up by the apartheid regime as an ex­clu­sively coloured town­ship, El­dos has a lot of poverty and un­em­ploy­ment, as well as sub­stance abuse prob­lems, es­pe­cially among the youth.

Makhura said:“The im­pres­sion that we are not tak­ing the coloured com­mu­nity se­ri­ously must come to an end. We must show in prac­tice and in ac­tion.”

He and mem­bers of his ex­ec­u­tive, to­gether with act­ing City of Jo­han­nes­burg Mayor Mat­shidiso Mfikoe, spent two days in Soweto to as­sess ser­vice-de­liv­ery progress and speak to com­mu­ni­ties as part of the Ntirhisano Ser­vice De­liv­ery War Room pro­gramme.

Com­plaints ranged from a lack of hous­ing and so­cial ameni­ties, such as clin­ics, to di­lap­i­dated in­fra­struc­ture, over­crowded back rooms, lolly lounges, drug abuse and po­lice col­lab­o­rat­ing with druglo­rds.

Makhura con­ceded that, in­deed, El­do­rado had not ben­e­fited from hous­ing devel­op­ment for many years.

“I un­der­stand why the com­mu­nity says we must do more to win back the con­fi­dence. I know a lot of work we still need to do, even where there is progress, it’s clouded by his­tory. But I prom­ise, you will see us a lot, not just dur­ing elec­tions,” he said.

“You feel you are not South African enough, not white enough and not black enough, and you are the last one in the queue,” he said as the packed hall echoed with a loud “yes”.

At one point the meet­ing be­came tense as he had to con­tend with threats of war against govern­ment that would be “much worse than the 1976 up­ris­ing”.

As one an­gry res­i­dent put it: “You wouldn’t want to mess with the coloured com­mu­nity.”

Then a threat­en­ing mem­o­ran­dum was handed to Makhura and his MECs by a group claim­ing to rep­re­sent res­i­dents.

In the memo, he was given seven days to re­spond to con­cerns “or this place is go­ing to burn”, and the res­i­dents said they would boy­cott the Au­gust 3 lo­cal elec­tions.

“I’m not go­ing to be in­tim­i­dated. We can take crit­i­cism, but we can’t take vi­o­lence,” he said as he de­scribed some con­tents of the memo as “ridiculous”.

Gaut­eng govern­ment promised the com­mu­nity that it would be given ti­tle deeds for a block of flats. The prov­ince has also iden­ti­fied a piece of land where schools are set to be built and 6 500 houses erected.

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