Leader - Hoofartikel
Tuesday 3 July 2012
The poor tremble when winter comes Questions need answers
The “service delivery” theme continues in Bot River, but this week our front page article raises more questions than answers. Service delivery needs earnest attention from all levels of government and at times residents confuse the three tiers of government with one another, demanding housing or schools from a local authority when these can be provincial or national government functions. Assertions that the recent protests in Bot River were based on political motivations rather than true service delivery concerns have informed the local authority’s response to the protests. But community leaders who previously chose to speak on behalf of residents this week failed to respond to pertinent questions from the Gazette, and thus far have also not provided the local authority with further clarity on protesters’ grievances. But if the grievances are indeed still about service delivery, we should be worried if promises were made and not kept. It is essential, though, that service delivery concerns are communicated to the correct authorities and that opportunities to engage with these authorities are used for the betterment of service from government. Surely this is what protesters desire?
With the onset of winter, we have been facing an onslaught of howling winds and torrential rains. The ripped-off guttering on my garage had to be repaired and my neighbours, Peter and Colleen, had to call in the builders after a particularly nasty storm. The fortunate ones prepared well for our wet season by sealing windows, fixing leaking roofs and effecting general maintenance on the home or around the property. Hardware stores and handymen are experiencing a roaring trade, and for the unseasoned lay people like the majority of us, it is a matter of keeping fingers crossed and hoping nothing untoward happens. It is also that time of the year when insurance companies fear the worst. They hate handing out money that is rightfully yours anyway, and each bit of home damage needs to be accounted for. Rainfall is a seasonal necessity as any farmer will tell you – the crops need water. Our dam levels are also dependent on the rains. There are places in South Africa that are currently experiencing severe water shortages, so any kind of wet weather is welcomed. However, there is a downside to the gifts of nature. The first time I saw snow, I received at least four telephone calls from people wanting me to enjoy the white flakes coating the cars and sidewalks. Unfortunately at the time, the social benefits
of the country had been cut and people who should have been in hospitals and places of care were being sent out into the streets. The homeless were also being evicted from the underground subway system where it was warm and driven aboveground, where the cold and snow were waiting. People died and were given paupers’ burials. Since then I cannot look at snow without experiencing a measure of sadness. Here we have marginalised communities bearing the brunt of the harshness of winter. Workers having to travel long distances in the pouring rain and school children walking to places of learning barefoot become the norm. In the informal housing sector flooding occurs regularly, and when the wind unleashes its power, it is not the guttering or a window being blown out that matter – but entire sections of someone’s home. Houses have physically shifted when faced by the lethal combination of rain and wind. Years ago, when the authorities brutally implemented the squatters act, impoverished communities were forcibly evicted from places like Unibell, Werkgenot and Modderdam during the middle of a particularly terrible winter. The people of Cape Town showed how big their hearts were and an organisation called Shelter was born. People gave of their skills, time and money. It was a case
in which people of all religious, sexual. political and colour persuasions felt the need to help. Obviously this is a concern for government, but civil society can assist on many levels. It is the reason why the call by Gazette for warm clothing and blankets is so important. It locates us as a caring community, and it is a proactive stance that denies us the label of uninvolved. There are parents who struggle to feed their children, let alone clothe them. As a parent , I cannot ignore what our winters are capable of inflicting on the very young. People can read dispassionately about a car accident when adults are killed, but when a group of children is killed in a similar event, everyone pauses. I am my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper.
Bot River protests ‘should not be a surprise’ to the municipality The story that is being spread that Pearl Stanfield is responsible for the lack of delivery of social housing in Bot River is not true. The fact is that she was not the ward councillor for Bot River when the proposed IDP (Integrated Development Plan) budget was drawn up and promulgated by TWK – and in fact she was not even a councillor at all at the time. The ward councillor at the time was James Pheiffer. I was a member of the Bot River Ward Council when Ms Stanfield was elected, and at this forum made it very clear that the then proposed IDP capital expenditure excluded housing in Bot River for the following year, as well as any other capital expenditure. I saw the potential for work for the unemployed in Bot River totally eroded by the fact that there would be no capital spent in the area. Upon further enquiry, I was told that the problems of housing were greater in other TWK areas. My protests went unheeded. The ward council has no power to affect
TWK decisions anyway. I seriously doubt that my protests were heard beyond the closed ward council meetings. There was a public meeting where the municipal manager defended the IDP proposal. The current service delivery protests are a direct result of no capital expenditure in the area. This should not be a surprise to the TWK officials who drew up this IDP expenditure plan, including the municipal manager. The silence from the TWK municipality as to why Bot River was excluded from the IDP budgeting for this year is beyond my understanding. The affected protesting population is certainly being misled by their spokesmen about the lack of housing delivery and who is responsible therefore. The understanding of procedure for housing budgeting is beyond the majority of ordinary people, including myself. Exactly who develops the IDP proposals and which committee accepts the proposal that ultimately gets put into practice is a mystery. This mystery committee should answer the
complaints of the people of Bot River. Several people have told me that they voted for Pearl Stanfield on the basis of her promises to provide free housing for them in the 2011 calendar year. I cannot verify if this is true because she never said this to me. If she did, she deserves the wrath of her voters.
GARTH CHAIT Stiffie Cronjé, spokesperson for the Theewaterskloof Municipality, said in response to this letter that the writer was “more than welcome” to contact the TWK office directly to discuss the matter.
Selfverrykingeuwel kelder die mensdom ONDER die fontein agter my huisie het ek ’n dammetjie gegrawe. Twee meter onder die oppervlak kom ek af op twee netjiese klipwerktuie, opvallend anders weens hul kleur, tekstuur en fatsoen. Die stamper van grys graniet en die skraper van klipharde kwartsiet se makers moes destyds hier naby die fontein gewoon het, waarskynlik in die vlak sinkgat net daarbo. Wie was hierdie voorgangers van my en wat sou van hulle geword het? Ons weet baie oor die ampermense wat ons voorafgegaan het, maar die hele Homostamboom is in sommige opsigte nog onvolledig. Ons eie spesie ken ons goed – die eerste ware Homo sapiens het êrens tussen Mosselbaai en Blombos ontstaan, vanwaar hulle uiteindelik die hele wêreld tydens ’n verstommende eksodus bevolk het. ’n Meer onlangse raaisel is die talle stokoue metropole wat op onverklaarbare wyse ten gronde gegaan het. Ons ken die oorblyf-
sels van Troje, Mohenjo-Daro (in Indië), Machu Picchu, Babilon, Angkor Wat, almal eens groot, welvarende stede wat mettertyd bedek is deur woestynsand of oorgroei is deur oerwoud. Klimaatverandering, natuurrampe en oorloë verklaar sommige se einde, maar die mees insigryke verklaring is dat baie van hulle die slagoffers was van sistematiese ongelykheid. Hierdie verdwene samelewings het vermoedelik gegroei en gebloei totdat een sektor uiteindelik só baie van die beskikbare hulpbronne ingepalm het dat die uitgeslotenes uit wanhoop eenvoudig in opstand moes kom. Die gevolglike konflik het die hele samelewing dan verwoes en almal moes verkas. Dan het die oerwoud teruggegroei en die duine weer aangewaai gekom. Dié skynbaar ingebore gebrek aan mededeelsaamheid van die mensdom, wat indruis teen elke morele en etiese lering, bly ’n raaisel. Vra een van diegene wat blyk-
baar elke wakende oomblik aan selfverryking bestee, wat die lewe nog kan bied as jy reeds ’n groot woonhuis of twee, strandhuis, wildplaas, woonstel in Parys, dosyne motors, bote, ’n genommerde bankrekening en miskien selfs ’n vliegtuig of helikopter ook het (dis nou benewens ander voordele soos ’n modelskone vrou, ’n langer lewe en gunstige hofuitsprake…). Ek voorspel jou navraag sal gewoon as afguns afgemaak of onbeantwoord gelaat word. Daar is twee aspekte aan hierdie maniese selfverryking. Die eerste is dat die aarde se hulpbronne in die volgende eeu of wat uitgeput gaan wees, wat beteken wat jy ook al in jou sak of mond gaan druk, toenemend uit iemand anders s’n sal moet kom. Navorsing toon tweedens dat besittings en voorregte geen blywende plesier bied nie, wel die onbevredigde strewe daarna. Ek lees oor ’n soort “gelukkigheidsindeks”, waarop Suid-Afrika die derde laaste plek
beklee. Ons is ook na aan wêreldkampioen wat sistemiese ongelykheid betref, wat self iets sê. Ek staan eenmaal in ’n hysbak met een van ons superrykes en sy aantreklike vrou. Hy het woordeloos en verveeld na elke hoek gekyk, mevrou stroef na die vloer. Die wedersydse ongeneentheid oorverdowend. Daardie ou wat die klipwerktuie agter my huis sit en maak het, was bepaald meer tevrede met sy maaksels en sy lot as die ou in die hysbak, sou ek raai. firstname.lastname@example.org
Published on Jul 5, 2012