21 February 2018 Read: 113
More than 300 volunteers from the rural villages in Mopani have threatened to bring services at the district municipality to a halt if they are not hired by the municipality as they were initially promised. They gathered at the fire station last week Thursday, demanding answers after they did not receive their monthly stipend for December.
Secretary for the volunteers, Sabina Mocheki, said they are concerned after the municipality defaulted on an initial promise that they were going to be hired either by the MDM or the Empowered Public Works Programme (EPWP). She added that they were paid stipends similar to those paid to workers of the EPWP in December, and those payments have since stopped.
Mocheki said all the volunteers are from the five municipalities in the district which are Greater Letaba, Tzaneen, Maruleng, Phalaborwa and Greater Giyani municipalities. She said they formed a committee in 2015 after they realised that a promise by the MDM to hire them was not fulfilled. It is alleged that after some engagements with authorities, these volunteers were paid the sum of R2 100.
“When we could not get the money we decided to engage the municipality on the subject but we were not given an attentive ear. So we then saw it fit to hit the streets in the hopes that our message will be heard. We spent some hours away from our homes helping communities with water but the people we are assisting decided to turn a blind ear. Our safety sometimes is compromised. We will not rest until all the demands are met.” she added.
MDM spokesperson, Neil Shikwambana said he is aware of the problems experienced by the protestors and they are ready to listen to them. “We do not want to meet them through the media and instead we prefer to meet them face to face. We realised that commenting in the past in the media created more tensions between the municipality and the operators and we would like to avoid the stalemate repeating itself,” said Shikwambana.
He urged leaders of the concerned people to consult the municipality through their representatives. He said the municipality is always ready to meet the communities they are serving provided appropriate procedures were followed. The municipality is the water services authority in Mopani and it is responsible for delivering water to rural villages.
Attempts to contact the mayor of the municipality, Nkakareng Rakgoale, before going to print, reached a massive stone wall.
— Jan Mafetsa