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.”

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