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Opinionista

Moving Makhanda High Court to Bhisho is a grave strategic injustice — residents will resist

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Lungile Mxube is convenor of the Makana and Eastern Cape Federation of Civic Movements. He has a long history in government, with a strong track record of fighting corruption. He led the Makana Citizens Front, established election structures and coordinated its 2021 local government elections campaign, which led to the MCF securing 18.1% of the vote, which translated to five seats.

The decision to relocate the seat of the Makhanda High Court is not based on the will of the people. We therefore demand that the ANC government backs off and abandons this thoughtless decision.

Makana is like a sinking ship without a captain.

Relocating the seat of the high court to Bisho is a particularly bad move because failed municipal governance has already trashed the local economy. 

Unemployment is rampant and many residents have lost hope.

Any move like this that requires large-scale construction and addition to office space runs the risk of corruption of building and lease contracts, both serious problems nationwide.

With 2024 being an election year, we must all concentrate our minds on how to achieve real change. In this context, the proposed relocation of the seat of the high court is based on economic and narrow business interests and has nothing to do with the interests of the people of the Eastern Cape. If access to justice is the issue, why does the government not make Legal Aid for rights violations more available and accessible to the poor?

Access to justice is not just about the cost of taxi fare to the nearest high court.

More concerning is that the Eastern Cape is becoming the headquarters of corruption by outside forces who have captured our province.

To show that these people are really clueless and lack a developmental mindset, in 2019 the same high court they now want to relocate ordered the premier and province to dissolve the scrapyard Makana Council. They refused. Instead, they appealed the judgment and the appeal was overtaken by the local government elections in 2021.

This decision is linked to the Bisho Airport upgrade and its recommercialisation to pursue external business interests by an elite linked to the premier and President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Economic arguments don’t make sense

From a purely economic standpoint, building up Bisho makes no sense as it is too close to a major city to be a developmental hub, whereas Makhanda is strategically positioned between the two largest metros in the province, where it has the potential to offer services in common to both. 

It is therefore obvious that any developmental initiative targeting Bisho has ulterior motives.

The upgrade of the derelict former Amatola Sun hotel at Bisho is part of a business package which will destroy other small towns. Construction of new buildings and government leases are both ripe with opportunities for massive fraud, crimes we have seen over and over again without consequence and impoverishing the state of resources it needs to service the poor.

This is the final straw in the agenda of converting our beloved city from a city of saints into a city of shame.

Heaven is looking upon them with horror and disgrace. 

The bones of Makhanda must be shaking in disbelief.

This thoughtless decision is going to punish the ANC at the polls. Those who have been mismanaging our city, abusing public resources, must go and explain to the people this nonsensical development. Despite the apparent opposition of the ANC council, it is their own national and provincial leadership who are pushing the agenda of corruptly centring resources in Bisho, an apartheid capital created to oppress our people.

No one person or organisation removed the National Party from government, but it was because of the sustained emancipatory struggles of the masses below, and this is what is needed now in Makana.

Makana needs a unity conference of all genuine democratic forces which must be led by organised civil society. That is why we are launching a new Makana Civic Movement, under the umbrella of the Eastern Cape Federation of Civic Movements. We must bring everybody under one roof — excluding the ANC. 

Removing the high court is not only economic sabotage but a declaration of war by this corrupt and murderous state.

All donkeys must now step aside. We need fresh leadership with ideas to lead Makana into the future — we need the people to stand up and demand their rights.

Many institutions are now bleeding and state-owned institutions have been looted to the ground. Now, they arrogantly want to destroy a credible institution, the high court, which has survived many storms and turbulence.

The decision to relocate the seat of the high court is not based on the will of the people. We, therefore, demand that the ANC government backs off and abandons this thoughtless decision. DM

Read about the Makana Citizens Front.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • durand.bdr says:

    Some extremely valid points. A ridiculous waste of resources, and opportunity for corruption. And nobody wants to be in Bhisho anyway – they all relocate their offices to East London.

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