eThekwini fu­els strife with shack dwellers’ group

Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - MPHATHI NX­U­MALO

THE eThekwini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity has fu­elled ris­ing ten­sion with shack dwellers’ move­ment Abahlali baseMjon­dolo (AbM) by ac­cus­ing it of be­ing con­trolled by an out­side force.

Dur­ing an Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee (Exco) meet­ing yes­ter­day the city ef­fec­tively side­lined AbM and said in fu­ture it would deal with the South African Shack Dwellers’ In­ter­na­tional Al­liance (Sas­dia), an um­brella net­work of non-govern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions which helps com­mu­ni­ties in var­i­ous ways.

EThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede said they had worked hard to reach an agree­ment with Sas­dia be­cause there seemed to be a “third hand” be­hind AbM’s ac­tions and it was bet­ter to deal with an um­brella body like Sas­dia.

ANC Exco coun­cil­lor Nelly Nyanisa ac­cused AbM leader S’bu Zikode of be­ing “hell­bent” on mak­ing the city un­govern­able.

”We will deal with them,” she said.

The city has a strained re­la­tion­ship with AbM and the two par­ties have faced off in the high court over al­leged land in­va­sions.

Ac­cu­sa­tions that Zikode was be­ing con­trolled did not sit well with AbM, but the group’s spokesper­son, Thapelo Mo­hapi, said they were not sur­prised.

“It’s not the first time it has been said that we are be­ing con­trolled by a third force. It is ac­tu­ally un­der­min­ing black peo­ple to say that they can’t ques­tion or cre­ate their own bod­ies. When you ques­tion au­thor­ity, when you ex­pose cor­rup­tion and the way things are be­ing done, then they say there is a third force.”

Mo­hapi said this im­plied that black peo­ple could not do any­thing for them­selves and needed help from other race groups or as­sis­tance from overseas.

“What Exco is do­ing is cre­at­ing divi­sion be­tween poor peo­ple.”

He said they were open to work- ing with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity but would not tol­er­ate cor­rup­tion and un­kept promises.

Mo­hapi said AbM had a cor­dial re­la­tion­ship with Sas­dia and had been in con­tact with them as re­cently as last month.

DA coun­cil­lor Heinz de Boer yes­ter­day said he was not happy with the way in which the city had se­cured an agree­ment with Sas­dia and ex­cluded AbM.

“It is a smack in the face, re­ally… The mayor’s com­ments are cheap pol­i­tick­ing.”

De Boer said AbM was one of the big­gest or­gan­i­sa­tions in eThekwini and in the prov­ince and should have been con­sulted.

“The mat­ter is that Abahlali does not back down from the ANC and tells it as it is,” he said.

Samke Phewa from the Com­mu­nity Or­gan­i­sa­tion Re­source Cen­tre, which falls un­der Sas­dia, said the agree­ment with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was at the draft stage and was with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s le­gal de­part­ment.

She said it was the cul­mi­na­tion of years of ef­fort to try to form a re­la­tion­ship with the city.

Phewa said they would be happy once the agree­ment was signed and in use.

The pro­gramme would in­clude help­ing peo­ple to help them­selves. She said this en­tailed com­mu­ni­ties start­ing projects with the help of the city.

The com­mu­nity would also do sur­veys where they would de­tail their ur­gent needs, which would be taken to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

They would also be look­ing to get in­for­mal set­tle­ments up­graded and sup­plied with bet­ter ser­vices, she said.

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