We won't be deterred by disruptive forces - Patricia de Lille

Cape Town mayor says local community ‘gatekeepers', often linked to ANC, are trying to disrupt service delivery

We will not be deterred by disruptive forces

The recent heavy rains and subsequent flooding in parts of Cape Town over the past two weeks, and their devastating consequences for many communities around the city, have acted as a stark reminder to us all that rapid urbanisation, coupled with the effects of our unequal past, present real and pressing challenges for us all.

This administration, in all the work we do, is committed to redress and to building a Safe and Caring City for all our residents, as far as we are able. We have continually demonstrated the seriousness of this commitment in all the work we do.

The City of Cape Town's Disaster Risk Management team have been working round the clock to alleviate the worst effects of the rain in areas around the city. From 13 August 2013, the City assisted 39 506 households to the amount of R9 390 000,00. This includes the handing out of 35 000 blankets, 200 000 meals, thousands of baby packs, and flood kits to help people rebuild their structures.

In broader terms, we have committed close to a billion Rand in the coming financial year to services to informal settlements with allocations of R292 million for electricity provision, R521 million for water and sanitation, and R141 million for solid waste management. The City's sustained investment in informal settlements since 2006 has seen a dramatic improvement in service provision with, for example, the number of toilets provided in these areas having increased from 14 591 to around 40 296 since 2006.

In face of an ever increasing population, there can be no denying that our resources are stretched. So we do as much as we can, with what we have, as soon as it is possible.

It is because of this that our capital expenditure for the 2012/2013 financial year stands at 92,9%.

It is because of this that the latest findings of our community satisfaction survey show that, among our residents, the perception of how the City delivers services continues to improve. Indeed, over the last five years, we have seen consecutive increases in our levels of performance. For the financial year that has just passed, we have seen the average rating of the City increase to its highest level yet.

It is because of this that we have received numerous awards from National Government and others, setting Cape Town as a leading municipality in various regards.

However, in all our efforts towards achieving higher levels of service delivery, we are all too often finding that we are confronted with community resistance, much of which is politically motivated.

The vandalism of City property has become an expected norm during service delivery protests, most often affecting entire communities. Recently, the City has spent almost R10 million on fixing what vandals have treated with such little regard, and on the delegation of staff to repair infrastructure. Vandals have, amongst others, damaged and destroyed traffic lights, cables, and portable flush toilets and have blocked sewers.

It is becoming clear, as ever more evidence emerges, that many of the protests we have seen recently are organised by people who have a clear political agenda for which they are willing to sacrifice the safety of, and the delivery of services to, residents.

On Friday 30 September 2013, details were provided by both the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town which are clear evidence of the ANC's involvement in the so-called ‘poo protests', making good on their often promised ungovernability campaign in the run-up to the General Election next year.

Until these elections, their actions will most likely intensify.

But we will not sit back and allow a few disruptive, bullying individuals to prevent us in our commitment to deliver all the services we can to the people of Cape Town.

In this regard the City has, over the last months, sought six interdicts to stop certain individuals and organisations from disrupting the provision of services.

On Friday morning we were granted an interdict to stop the disruption of solid waste services being provided in Dunoon, which some community members had blocked, saying that they wanted to help choose the staff working on these contracts. This demand not only does not follow the prescribed processes of the City, but is also illegal.

One of the City's other major contractors, Sannicare CC, earlier this year underwent a labour dispute between themselves and a number of their now former employees.

In this case, the City had to interdict ex-employees and some community members from disrupting sanitation services from being provided in areas including Kanana, Kosovo and Barcelona. Even now, the City is serving the affected areas only with the support of Metro Police. This of course takes away resources from other areas that are in need of them.

In Manenberg, the City was forced to interdict Mario Wanza and Proudly Manenberg who had previously been harassing and disrupting City staff and our contractors who are working on the Council rental stock upgrades.

In January, we had to interdict the Ward Forum in Ward 95, Khayelitsha, from disrupting the provision of solid waste services.

In Joe Slovo, we had to interdict SANCO and their associates from violently assaulting city contractors who were providing services in the area.

The message is clear that local community ‘gatekeepers', often with the explicit or tacit support of the ANC, are seeking to undermine the provision of services to communities most in need of them.

We will not be deterred. The City will continue to resist such efforts by ensuring that we use all available measures to counter this threat.

This article by Patricia de Lille first appeared in Cape Town This Week, the online newsletter of the Executive Mayor of Cape Town.


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