We are less than a week away from the 2021 local government elections. The Plainsman spoke to community workers and community activists on challenges they face in the community and what they would like to see done once new councillors are elected.
Charmaine Adams, chairperson of the Tafelsig sub-forum, an affiliate of the Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum, said councillors are not working with the community leaders.
“The street lights are not in working condition; they remain off for long periods of time. It has been reported, however, it creates opportunities for crime.
“We have sewage problems on a regular basis, as well as pot holes which remain a health hazard for us,” said Ms Adams.
Ward councillors should acknowledge committee leaders, organisations and work hand-in-hand to better the community, not create division, she said.
“We should have regular meetings and inform the community about City plans, allow them the opportunity to make decisions for their areas and address the challenges,” she said.
“Ward councillor, PR (proportional representative) councillor, if you are voted in by the community, don’t serve with dictatorship but serve with passion, compassion and listen to the community and their needs. Treat everybody equally, learn from other councillors’ mistakes and better them,” she said.
Ward councillors should empower the youth with skills training and job opportunities. They should be fair in the recruitment of jobs.
“I’d like to wish all candidates well in the elections. You are called for such a time as this. Better the lives and conditions of our communities. Don’t play party politics with people’s lives but do the best to your ability to serve,” said Ms Adams.
Beacon Valley pastor and community activist, Dean Ramjoomia, said there are many challenges in the area and there are solutions if everyone works together for the good of the community.
Some of the challenges this area face are with fields and open spaces across Ward 79 and Ward 116. The land can be re-purposed for alternative use such as sustainable food gardening projects, as well as partnership between the sporting community and the sport and recreation directorate of the City of Cape Town, he said.
Mr Ramjoomia said resources should be allocated towards local organisations that focus on community healing projects, skills training around conflict management and open public spaces should be considered for multiple purposes recreation and health and fitness facilities.
“The councillors elected and their parties should be prepared to sign service level agreements with the community in which they serve with measurable tools and time frames attached to programmes and projects. They should depoliticise the councillor’s role and function,” said Mr Ramjoomia.
Beacon Valley for both Ward 116 and Ward 79 had been declared a red zone for violent crime around 2012.
“Despite all the crime prevention operations, safety structures over these years we still have a red zone, which is a clear indication of failure or failure to arrest the situation,” Mr Ramjoomia said.
A lot of money is being spent each year on upgrading parks, because of failed community partnerships – this can now be classified as wasteful expenditure due to neglect, maintenance and upkeep. The failed oversight must stop,” he said.
“The candidates elected should practice and place our clients, residences and ratepayers front and centre of what they are going to do,” said Mr Ramjoomia.
Chairperson of the Colorado Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association, Almondt van der Schyff, said some of the challenges they face in their community are safety and security issues, and the high crime rate in the area.
They’re also dealing with challenges such as service delivery, bin collection, clearing of fields, lack of youth development and upskilling programmes, high unemployment and loitering, lack of police interventions with regards to drugs, gangsterism and gender-based violence, to name a few.
“I would appreciate the ward councillor engaging with residents more actively and not being dismissive of their queries and complaints. They should be reminded that they are there to serve their constituents. Bridging the divide between residents and the previous and current ratepayers’ association members, would be a start, so matters can be addressed,” said Mr Van Der Schyff.
The elected candidates should see to the needs of the community, especially the elderly, residents with high water bills, safety, security and crime to ensure service delivery takes place.
“They should continue to address the concerns of Mitchell’s Plain residents and help those in need.
“I would like councillors to restore dignity and pride to the residents of Mitchell’s Plain,” said Mr Van Der Schyff.
Chairperson of the Lentegeur Community Police Forum (CPF), Byron de Villiers, said they have a huge issue with gang violence and drugs. There are massive poverty issues as well, hence the gang violence being so high in the area.
“The incoming ward councillor needs to work with the right structures such as the CPF to begin with. They shouldn’t keep opportunities to themselves or their buddies. They should be a true servant to the people.
“ Understand the needs of the people and try to assist. The ward councillor is there to serve the community at all times and not only when it suits them,” said Mr De Villiers.
“There should be a huge mental shift in how to tackle issues in the community – change is needed,” said Mr De Villiers.