Dihlabeng residents want jobs and houses

Jobs, housing and municipal services are what most residents in the Dihlabeng local municipality want from their new municipal leaders one week before the March 1 local government elections.

Topsie Masweu (60) of Bohlokong, who works as a domestic worker in Bethlehem, said on Wednesday that jobs were the most urgent need in the town.

”People are hungry; they do not have work and stay home all the time.”

Masweu is the only member her family who has work.

”The children and men are sitting at home, they do not work,” she said, adding that this was not a good thing.

Standing in line waiting for a taxi at the entrance to Bohlokong, George Mzizi, (36) also a resident of the township, agreed. ”There is no job, we must have jobs,” he said.

Even though Dihlabeng borders the Phumelela and Maluti-a-Phofung municipalities where riots broke out over poor service delivery two years ago, it has been relatively quiet except for small protest marches by the civic organisations.

Tjhetane Mofokeng, of the African National Congress (ANC), said there were still ”challenges” within the community and more needed to be done.

”However, people acknowledge that despite these challenges there has been ‘considerable’ service delivery.”

Mofokeng said Dihlabeng residents had demonstrated a high level of political maturity in the past.

”There were protest marches in town, but they did not go out of control as in Harrismith and in the other places,” he said.

Opposition parties in the municipality agree that things are not ”too bad” in Bethlehem, but acknowledge that the issues of jobs, housing and services are serious.

”The 25 000 residents in Fateng township at Paul Roux still use the bucket system, and they are not happy,” Pieter Olivier, independent councillor, said.

”The existing infrastructure to handle the bucket system is also inadequate and due to money shortages it cannot be upgraded.”

He is stands again for election on March 1 under the flag of the African Christian Democratic Party.

Johannes Mofokeng (38) a Bohlokong shack dweller, who works as a car-watch man in Bethlehem, was also not too happy with service delivery.

He applied for an RDP house in 1995 and has heard nothing yet.

”Silahliwe township where I stay has only a few RDP houses.”

At the moment, he has no running toilet and has to walk a few hundred metres to fetch water at one of taps servicing the community.

However, he is keen to vote on March 1.

”People must go and vote. Go vote otherwise others would decide for you,” he said.

Donald Stevens, of the Freedom Front Plus, said the situation would not be as bad if the municipality put more effort into collecting outstanding debt.

According to a recent audit report, Dihlabeng has outstanding debt of R170-million.

Olivier, Stevens and the Democratic Alliance’s Clem Harrington attribute service delivery problems in the area largely to internal strife and factions within ANC leadership in the municipality.

The Dihlabeng municipality consists of Bethlehem, Fouriesburg, Rosendal, Paul Roux and Clarens. – Sapa

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