Memorandum of grievances of the people of the OR Tambo region
Date: 17 March 2023
To: Cllr GN Nelani, the Executive Mayor of King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality
From: The UDM leadership of the OR Tambo Region on behalf of the people who live in the OR Tambo District Municipality
Subject: Memorandum of grievances of the people of the OR Tambo region
1.1. Today, 17 March 2023, we the people who live in the King Sabata Dalindyebo and OR Tambo District Municipalities have taken to the streets of Mthatha to march in solidarity and to express our dissatisfaction on various matters and to protest the conditions in which we are forced to live.
1.2. Upon delivery to you, Mr Mayor, we request that you escalate this memorandum of demands to the Provincial Government of the Eastern Cape and the entire Cabinet of the Republic of South Africa, as a claim upon their time and attention, and a call to action.
1.3. The OR Tambo region constitutes the largest part of the former Transkei, and it proudly bears the name of struggle stalwart Oliver Reginald Kaizana Tambo – a man who fought for the liberation of our people and whose legacy should live on through the daily expression of the South African constitution, which is a better life for all South Africans.
1.4. The OR Tambo region has for many years suffered a divide amongst its citizens; both political and economic. During the cursed apartheid years, South Africa used our people as a reservoir for cheap labour; it was a time during which our people were demeaned, and we were relegated to the backwaters of society. To crown it, the Apartheid government viewed this area as a breeding ground for revolutionaries and development had been scant.
1.5. When the democratic elections took place 29 years ago, the people of this region breathed a sigh of relief at the expectation that we would be part of bigger and better things to come. Yet, we seem to have clung to false hope. You do not need to go far to see the dilapidated state of the Matanzima-era government infrastructure – nothing is maintained and nothing new gets built.
2. Grievance 1 – loadshedding and electricity provision
2.1. Load shedding has had such an impact on businesses, big and small, but it is the smaller concerns that cannot sustain their businesses. There is not a business enterprise today that does not rely on the internet to function and those who solely rely on the internet for an income cannot make a living and loadshedding impacts on internet use. Part-time workers have suffered because of cancelled shifts. In each household, ordinary South Africans have had to replace appliances, in some cases repeatedly, at great cost as loadshedding and power surges destroy their devices.
2.2. Loadshedding has now been continuing for more than a decade and the compounding effect on our economy is apparent. Continued loadshedding will decimate what little is left of our economy. Stage 6 loadshedding is a reality as we speak and with the high fuel price, South Africa’s economy is suffering, and we cannot be folding our arms.
2.3. We demand that Cabinet wakes up to the impacts of loadshedding on everyday South Africans, especially given the common understanding that ministers do not suffer the impacts of continued power interruptions in their lives.
2.4. We demand that the Minister of Electricity Dr Kgosientso Ramokgopa hits the ground running in ensuring that the country’s electricity crisis is solved as soon as is possible, without corruption at the desk.
2.5. We further demand, on behalf of the rest of South Africa, that Cabinet increases its pressure on Eskom to get its act together for the sake of the South African economy.
3. Grievance 2 – collapsing infrastructure and infrastructure development
3.1. Most of the towns in the OR Tambo District Municipality are in dire straits where infrastructure and services are concerned; this is especially true of smaller towns. Such infrastructure and services act as a basis for the economy and quality of life of the people who live there and of those who visit from the villages to see to their material and physical needs.
3.2. Bridges are in disrepair, water leaks spring from underground pipes, sewerage spills are a daily occurrence, stormwater systems are defunct, streetlamps cast no light, and so the list goes on.
3.3. The people of the OR Tambo District access government services on a daily basis. Our children go to school, we access healthcare at hospitals and clinics, we report crime at police stations, we apply for identity documents and renew our drivers’ licences – to name but a few.
3.4. School infrastructure is worse, in this day and age, the children of this area should be benefiting from the internet, yet there is no rolling out of broadband facilities.
3.5. The little recreational facilities that exist in our communities are insufficient to cater for the needs of our people and this has an adverse impact on the quality of their lives. More recreational facilities should be built for the people of the OR Tambo Region to flourish.
3.6. Yet, judging by the state of the buildings in which these basic services are housed, not the national, nor the provincial, nor the local governments take pride in, or care of, its assets.
3.7. We demand that Cabinet intervenes with the local municipalities of King Sabata Dalindyebo, Port St Johns, Mhlontlo, Nyandeni and Ingquza Hill, as well as the OR Tambo District Municipality, to ensure that these basic infrastructure necessities are urgently taken care of. Not only are these deliverables in terms of the mandates of these municipalities and councils, but they are also the basic building blocks that give expression to the South African constitution of a better life for all.
3.8. We demand that Cabinet opens its eyes to the realities of the dilapidated state of government buildings in the district of OR Tambo and that we, as South Africans and taxpayers are co-owners of these structures.
3.9. We further demand that Cabinet owns up to its responsibility, as custodians of government property, and realise that the cleanliness and maintenance of these structures are an investment and that these building must serve future generations.
3.10. We also demand that Cabinet makes its counterparts on provincial and local levels wake up to the same responsibility at their respective levels.
4. Grievance 3 – roads and potholes
4.1. From Mbizana in the north, to Mvezo in the south. From Port St. Johns at the wild coast to Tabase inland; the people of the OR Tambo region are dependent on roads for their livelihoods, to visit family and friends, to buy food and clothes, to reach hospitals and schools, and to collect their pensions.
4.2. Road travel is the main mode of transport tourists use to access the sights of the Wild Coast and the other areas in the region.
4.3. There are however so many potholes in our roads – to travel south between Viedgesville and Coffee Bay and from there on to the Hole in the Wall, and then north to Elliotdale, one risks one’s life. The R61 between Engcobo and Mthatha have yet to be completed with long years of flimsy excuses from the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral).
4.4. This part of the Eastern Cape is a tourism mecca, with historical features, that is not invested in properly. At a bare minimum the roads infrastructure must be maintained to capitalise on the existing tourism footprint and then development should take place.
4.5. In the peri-urban areas in the King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality the roads in Chris Hani, Slovo and Mandela needs to be tarred.
4.6. We demand that Cabinet intervenes with the provincial government to drastically improve our provincial roads, but also that the roads for which the OR Tambo District Municipality is responsible are attended to as a priority, because roads are the arteries the connect our people to services and necessities.
5. Grievance 4 – stock theft
5.1. The animals that we keep are not mere property or a measure of our wealth, but they also fulfil other needs such as food and transport. We must be enabled to properly care for our livestock e.g. have access to communal dipping tanks to rid them from disease and to have our planted fields separated from grazing areas with proper fencing.
5.2. However, one of our main concerns is to have our animals protected from theft, as it imposes economic hardship on commercial, subsistence farmers and households alike. The fact that members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) are sometimes in cahoots with stock thieves is extremely disconcerting and must stop.
5.3. We demand that Cabinet reassesses the effectiveness of the SAPS in the OR Tambo region, where stock theft is concerned, and that rotten elements in the police force are eliminated. The effectiveness of the Eastern Cape stock theft unit must also be assessed.
6. Grievance 5 – violent crime
6.1. Not only is the safety of our animals an issue, but also the safety of our persons. Rural safety is especially of concern, where police stations are far from our villages and people. As much as we can work towards the “community in blue” concept, the farming community’s primary responsibility is food production and security, and not safety and security.
6.2. We are also particularly worried about the safety of our women and children, in both the urban and rural settings, where domestic abuse is rife.
6.3. We demand that Cabinet must pay more attention to the safety and security of the people of the OR Tambo region. We demand that the SAPS is well-resourced, but that they must also step up their game to ensure that criminals are effectively brought to book.
6.4. We further demand that Cabinet must spend more resources to educate our communities about domestic abuse, but also that when crimes such as child-abuse, women-abuse and rape is reported, that the perpetrators face the might of the law.
7. Grievance 6 – waste management
7.1. The streets of our towns in the OR Tambo region are filthy, informal settlements in particular suffer from the scourge of heaps of discarded rubbish, business and factory owners do not respect municipal bylaws, but the local municipalities are lax in enforcing the law, and waste management in general is poor or non-existent. Not only is litter unsightly, but discarded waste attracts vermin and poses other health risks.
7.2. We demand that Cabinet forces the local municipalities of King Sabata Dalindyebo, Port St Johns, Mhlontlo, Nyandeni and Ingquza Hill to fulfil their responsibilities to enforce municipal bylaws and also to not neglect waste management as a service delivery imperative.
8. Grievance 7 – water
8.1. The project of water supply and reticulation of the villages of the King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality started many years ago. But, because of corruption it has come to a standstill.
8.2. Thousands of residents living in the villages of Mthatha and Mqanduli up to Coffee Bay are without water due to the abysmal failure of the OR Tambo District Municipality’s water and sanitation projects. Households are left without water to cook food, to wash, for sanitary purposes, to water plants for food and animal consumption.
8.3. Amongst some of the corrupt practices, according to reports, a cool R170 million was allegedly paid in advance to the service provider on the project and not a single jot of work had allegedly been done by June 2020.
8.4. Not only has some elements within the administration of this municipality absconded with millions of Rands in money that should have been used for water provision, some of them also stole R4,8 million from a Covid-19 awareness campaign. This is a clear indication that all is not well at OR Tambo District Municipality and that these thieves have no moral compass/
8.5. It cannot be that the people are held at ransom by corrupt elements in government, especially on a project that should deliver on a basic service and human need.
8.6. We demand that Cabinet seek out the comrades in corruption in the OR Tambo District Municipality to return the money and bring them to justice.
8.7. We also demand that the national department must find the money somewhere in its budget to complete this long outstanding project.
9.1. The people who live in the OR Tambo District Municipality is tired of being treated as voting fodder, to be courted before elections and to be forgotten for the five years thereafter. We have as much a right as all other South Africans to be considered when resources are spent on socioeconomic development.
9.2. We take our responsibility as citizens seriously and have participated in the democratic dispensation as is required by the constitution. We make government possible and therefore government has de facto entered into a contract with us, is accountable to us and must invest in us.
9.3. We require that Cabinet takes the demands we have made today seriously in the same spirit that we have made them.
9.4. We demand that Cabinet honours the contract that we have entered into with government, which makes it possible for the President to have appointed its members.
Presented and signed by Ms Noncedo Zinti, MPL on behalf of the people who live in the OR Tambo District Municipality
Received on behalf of the Executive Mayor of King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality by:
in Mthatha, on the 17th day of March 2023, in the Eastern Cape Province, Republic of South Africa.