South Africa

GAUTENG STATUS REPORT

Service delivery petition hearing puts City of Tshwane on the spot

Service delivery petition hearing puts City of Tshwane on the spot
From left: SA Police Service personnel. (Photo: Leila Dougan) | Unsplash | The City of Tshwane. (Photo: Flickr) | RDP houses. (Photo: EPA / Kim Ludbrook) | Untended grass at Odi Stadium, Mabopane, Tshwane. (Photo: Facebook)

A public hearing in Tshwane has focused attention on many seemingly ignored petitions to the city on service delivery issues. Now, Gauteng’s standing committee on petitions has resolved to ensure that senior managers live up to their commitments to resolve these petitions.

The Gauteng legislature’s chair of the standing committee on petitions (PSC), Ezra Letsoalo, led the quarterly petition public hearing in Tshwane on Monday 28 March.

The hearing was held to provide a status report on some of the petitions adopted by the city and determine resolutions to the region’s adopted, yet unresolved, service delivery-related petitions.

Out of a pool of many petitions, the hearing focused on 13 adopted petitions that cover issues including land requests, housing development projects, a police station, the reconstruction of Odi Stadium, the misallocation of RDP houses and service delivery failures in general.

Of the 13 petitions presented at the hearing, some had been resolved, others were in the process of being resolved and others had not been resolved at all or had been referred to the provincial government.

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Below is the list of petitions and pending issues, covering a range of individual and community concerns in Tshwane:

  1. Application to lease vacant land: Soshanguve Block X

The Community of Zion Christian Church in Soshanguve Block X says there is vacant land that it occupies for church purposes. It says it has engaged the City of Tshwane on the matter and was informed that the land belongs to the Department of Infrastructure Development. It says it has been trying to get a lease for the land, with no luck — instead, it is referred from one person to the next.

  1. Request for land and funding: Distinct Orphan Care 

Ellen Maluleke, who lives in Refilwe Manor, runs Distinct Orphan Care, a non-profit organisation that she established more than five years ago. She alleges that as a public benefit organisation, Distinct Orphan Care functions to educate, develop and empower disadvantaged youth in the community and has over 70 beneficiaries. She states that it does not have a permanent structure to operate from or funds to keep the organisation running. She says she has relayed her issues to the city, to no avail.

  1. Request for housing development project: Lotus Gardens

In 2017 the residents of Lotus Gardens, Extension 19, were relocated by the City of Tshwane from Brazzaville informal settlements to Lotus Gardens, where they found 906 serviced stands, but no houses. Petitioner William Phala says Deputy President David Mabuza in 2019 committed funds to the construction of nine houses in the community. He says an additional 40 houses were constructed by the former mayor Solly Msimanga for disabled and elderly members of the community. He says several community members cannot afford to buy or construct their own houses and still need to be accommodated.

“This area is one of many in Tshwane affected by heavy downpours and shacks not being strong structures are easily blown away or the rain pours inside the shack. People can’t sleep in that situation. The community members who have permanent structures often have to accommodate the rest on rainy days and it’s not sustainable. The people need the houses,” said Phala.

  1. Lack of services in Eersterust 

Zelda Maasdorp, a resident of Eersterust, says she and other community members are disgruntled about the lack of service delivery in the area.

“Eersterust is a coloured-dominated area that has been overlooked for development since the dawn of democracy. Our civic centre does not provide the necessary service desk services — as such, we must travel to Mamelodi Tshwane Centre to access municipal desk services. Waste is not well-managed in the community and the drainage system is blocked, resulting in flash floods whenever it rains hard. Potholes are also a problem.”

  1. Conversion of Central School: Block H Soshanguve

Eunice Mulaudzi currently resides at Central School, which was previously a boarding school that is no longer used by the Department of Education. Mulaudzi requests that the school be converted to a residential area and is willing to pay for rental and the provision of services such as electricity, water and waste removal.

  1. Request for a police station in Mabopane

Alfred Mkhabela, a resident of Mabopane Extension 1, submitted a petition requesting that a police station be built to service Block R, Unit T, U Ext, 1 Block and Midas, which are all located in Mabopane. He says the reason they want a police station in their area is due to the poor service they receive from Terminus police station.

Mkhabela says: “The police officers have an attitude towards the residents of the Block R, Unit T, U Ext, 1 Block and Midas — instead of assisting residents who lodge complaints, they resort to telling us that we are not special. Also, there is a high crime rate in their area and instead of speedily receiving help, we are always told that there are not enough cars to head in our direction. The station commander who was assisting with the situation has since been transferred to Soshanguve and the station has further deteriorated.”

  1. Request for basic services: Mabopane Block U

Philip Mphake, who lives in Mabopane block U, alleges that the Tshwane municipality does not provide basic services to the community of Mabopane, Block U. He says there is a lack of infrastructure in the community, which includes tar roads, and a lack of maintenance of streetlights.

  1. Request for road surfacing & stormwater drainage: Mabopane Ward 20 

Malefyane Desia Dube, a resident of Mabopane, Ward 20, says that since the establishment of the township in 1985, the streets have not been tarred and there is still no drainage system for stormwater. Dube says the matter has been reported several times to the municipality, but there has been no response.

  1. Request for an urgent intervention: RDP house allocation 

Nelly Makhubela, a pensioner residing in Botshabelo, Mabopane, says she applied for an RDP house in 2000 and reapplied in 2005, but she is still waiting. Makhubela says the house she currently occupies is collapsing.

  1. Misallocated RDP house

An aggrieved beneficiary, Pauline Ratsotso, submitted a petition for misallocation of her RDP house. Ratsotso was allocated her house in 2003 at U extension in Mabopane. However, she says the house is “illegally” occupied, and that the occupants told her the councillor said they could live there.

  1. Housing development project: Mabopane Block U

Philip Mphake, who resides at Mabopane, Block U, submitted a petition concerning a housing development project under way in their area. He said the municipality has not been forthcoming with a list of prospective beneficiaries for RDP houses. He says meetings are convened with a selected number of community members, which, for him, signals there are intentions to syphon money from the project.

  1. Reconstruction of Odi Stadium: Mabopane

A petition on behalf of community members in Mabopane was submitted to the City of Tshwane by Sello Hendrick Modisenyane. The petitioner indicates that the community of ward 22 requested the immediate reconstruction of Odi Stadium. Modisenyane says Odi Stadium has become a hideout for criminals and a drug den, and this has led to youth abusing illegal substances.

He says the City of Tshwane keeps promising the community that there is a budget allocated for the stadium, but nothing has happened to date. The stadium, previously used as a multi-purpose centre, is in a state of disrepair.

  1. Various service delivery issues: Lebanon

Elizabeth Pilane resides in Lebanon and says there is an open space in her area that is being used to dump garbage, even though it was not so allocated by the municipality. Pilane alleges that this dumping site is a health hazard to the community due to high levels of pollution.

The city’s response

Acting chief of staff in the Tshwane mayor’s office, Jordan Griffiths, said, “It is important to understand that petitions for land cannot just merely be dispensed with. They have a whole legislative process and it is the city’s decision if they want to release land. The city is currently not in the process of disposing of land via donations or in any other fashion. The land is being leased or sold at market value.”

Regarding housing, Griffiths said, “With the housing issue, it is worth noting that the city did deliver on its commitment to build 40 houses for the community of Lotus Garden. The petitions on RDP housing have to go to the Gauteng housing department.”

In terms of the basic service delivery aspects, Griffiths said the city is tracking the issues and working towards resolutions, more specifically in  Eersterust and Mabopane.

“The City of Tshwane has identified the need for road upgrades in Mabopane and other parts of the city. There is currently a road surfacing project under way in Mabopane Ward 20 in response to the Request for Road Surfacing & Storm Water Drainage petition.

“In terms of Mabopane Block U, the claims of lack of service delivery are untrue. We are providing service there through our regional teams and we have our reporting line, along with our tracking, regarding the maintenance that is being done on road works, streetlights and high masts.”

Griffiths further said petitions five and six were not relevant to Tshwane and that the city does not have a budget allocated for the refurbishment of Odi Stadium, although it is currently refurbishing Caledonian Stadium and Refilwe Stadium.

“Dumping is a serious issue and people who do it don’t care about the environment. The city is providing regular waste services to mitigate the problem,” said Griffiths.

Gauteng standing committee on petitions response

The legislature’s petitions committee chair Ezra Letsoalo said: “The public external hearing… demonstrates that if relevant authorities, departments and municipalities could prioritise the handling of referred petitions, we could see the fostering of public confidence in public institutions and the use of maximum use of the petitioning process.”

Letsaolo noted a growing reliance on the petitioning system.

“There is inclining enthusiasm by residents of Gauteng to use the petitions system to respond to their service delivery grievances without resorting to violent and disruptive protests. However, turnaround times, as prescribed by the Petitions Act for the resolution of petitions, is often hampered by bureaucratic processes that undermine the much-needed edge to the plight of petitioners in having their matters speedily resolved.

“This has caused scepticism amongst other users of the system on the efficiency and intermediate role of the PSC,” he said.

“We have decided to make use of the legislative powers conferred by the Petitions Act to ensure that senior managers or divisional heads live up to their commitments to resolve referred petitions.

“We have also requested our sister portfolio committee [on cooperative governance and traditional affairs] to assist us to enforce oversight over non-responsiveness by some divisions [of the City of Tshwane] over the handling of those petitions.

“In the forthcoming quarter, we will also convene more of the external hearings as they seem to be instrumental in getting officials to be presently accountable, especially since they physically appear before the actual petitioners and communities,” said Letsoalo. DM

 

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