U’hage residents call for Maphazi to step down, independence

DISGRUNTLED Uitenhage residents called for Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Nondumiso Maphazi to step down and for Uitenhage to become independent of the Bay municipality.

Councillor Mike Kwenaite said residents had called Maphazi and Deputy Mayor Bicks Ndoni to a meeting at Babs Madlakane Hall in KwaNobuhle “to come and explain what is happening in the municipality”.

Issues discussed included budget allocation, poor housing infrastructure and municipal manager Graham Richards who is currently on special leave.

Addressing the almost full hall, Maphazi said she had to attend the meeting because of “pressure”.

“But mainly I came because people sent letters questioning whether there’s still a municipality or not.”

She spoke at great length about the Richards issue, which culminated in him taking “forced special leave” with full pay .

She said no one had taken over Richards’s position on an acting basis, but that “by Monday next week there’ll be someone who’ll lead the Nelson Mandela Metro”.

Kwenaite made it clear they had been “unhappy” with Richards’s appointment, “but we had to accept the order of the ANC”.

He said Richards’s contract was due to expire in 2011.

During questions, a resident told Maphazi, to loud applause: “You are not helpful to us in Uitenhage, for that you should step down and give others a chance… We never see you around in Uitenhage.”

Another called for Uitenhage to not be “part of the Bay municipality”.

Also to loud applause, Maphazi said: “I said it clearly to the comrades that if I must be redeployed, I must be redeployed.

“They must hire someone they think is able to do the job in the Nelson Mandela metro.”

Meanwhile, three high schools in KwaNobuhle; Thanduxolo, Nkululeko and Mlungisi, in the area called Gunguluza (Ward 45), were closed on Tuesday after a mob of protesting residents stormed onto premises, ordered the principals and staff to stop teaching and allow children to join a service delivery protest.

This happened at about 9am. The main roads in the area were barricaded by stones and burning tyres to prevent the police from entering.

Those leading the delivery protest claimed that pupils were also affected by the lack of delivery.

Teachers said ANC officials who visited the schools had dissociated themselves from the mob action.

Ward councillor and DA leader Franay van der Linde confirmed there had been a housing delivery protest, which started on Tuesday.

“I got a call from someone that two people had been killed by the police while holding a protest and I was being held responsible for these deaths,” she said.

The ward councillor claimed that three months ago she had been held hostage for two days in the Gunguluza informal settlement area by a mob of angry protesters who demanded answers for the lack of service delivery.

She said she was afraid to go and address the residents and had asked housing director Seth Maqetuka to talk to them.

Van der Linde also said it appeared the protest was just a strategy by anti- DA elements to make the area ungovernable and to remove her as councillor in order to install an ANC councillor.

“They say no delivery will take place there until I have been removed as ward councillor,” Van der Linde said.

Police spokesman Inspector Marianette Olivier said a 50-year-old man from Gunguluza was rushed to Uitenhage Provincial Hospital after being hit by a police car.

The incident took place at about 9.30am, she said. “The residents were unhappy about housing delivery.

“They were toyi-toying and blockading the road. We fired rubber bullets but no one was injured.”

SA launches Visitor Information Centres aimed at 2010 World Cup

South African Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk on Thursday launched the first 2010 Visitor Information Centres (VICs) in Port Elizabeth.

The three centres, developed at a cost of R6,7-million, would form part of the legacy project for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“The model for these centers is based on the best international practice and they will assist our tourism authorities in providing outstanding service to tourists as well as other stakeholders,” said Van Schalkwyk.

The Department of Tourism noted that with just 315 days until the start of the World Cup, the centers were aimed at improving the South African tourism offering with a view to enhancing service excellence, growing tourism and creating opportunities for local economic development.

As part of the national VIC project, centers were being rolled out in five host cities, namely Port Elizabeth, Polokwane, Nelspruit, Rustenburg and Bloemfontein. These less-visited provinces were earmarked for the VIC’s in preparation for the World Cup, but also to grow their tourism arrivals from both local and international visitors.

Van Schalkwyk stated that the primary objective of the VIC project was to effectively address the tourism and information needs of the visitors expected to converge in the five host cities in 2010 and beyond.

“The centers, funded by our department, create easy access and awareness of tourism-related facilities and attractions within an area. VICs are a key element of the visitor industry and play an integral part in the marketing chain and information distribution system,” he said.

“The centers provide tourists with a one-stop service and will be able to assist with information on a wide range of tourism products including tourism information enquiries, reservations, accommodation, tours, vehicle hire, entertainment, dining, sports, adventure, shopping and travel tips.”

Van Schalkwyk added that the information and reservation system used in the centers was developed in South Africa and is designed to cater specifically for the South African market. It has the same functionality as much more expensive international systems. The local system would allow for more participation by the members of tourism authorities, smaller establishments and small-, medium-sized and macro enterprises (SMMEs).

“These members will for the first time also have access to a centralised, standardised and affordable reservation system and advertising at a fraction of the price it would cost as a member an international organisation. The system provides SMMEs with the opportunity to become members of a tourism organisation and be integrated into the tourism value chain. It will also allow members to update and control their reservation system, in turn providing up to the minute information to tourists.”

Van Schalkwyk further explained that the rationale behind the information technology system was to integrate and standardise the technology component throughout South Africa to allow the visitor to have a seamless travel experience. It would also afford the visitor the ability to access information from any location in one of the five host cities.

In Port Elizabeth, the three VICs are located within the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, which incorporates Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage, Despatch and Colchester. The existing lighthouse facility located at the Donkin Reserve was upgraded to serve as the flagship VIC, with the satellite facilities located at the Port Elizabeth airport and Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World.

The three centers make use of touch screens linked to a central database to cater for any tourist information requirements. In addition, plasma screens display the tourism products on offer and the advertisements of local businesses. The centers, furthermore, provide information officers at the main desk, brochure displays on assorted tourist attractions, free Internet access and an online booking system.

All three VICs are fully operational and offer a seven-day a week service, in line with international standards.

source: Engineering News