BLM celebrates with senior citizens
The Bushbuckridge Local Municipality recently held a Senior Citizens’ Celebration Day at Numbi Hotel in Hazyview. As part of the day’s activities the elderly were treated to a 3 course meal and given information on health issues. The elderly also received blankets, the old ladies received umbrellas while the old gentlemen were given panama hats.
Giving a keynote address, the Acting Executive Mayor, MMC Violet Nkuna referred to the senior citizens as the vvips of the event. Nkuna told the elderly that Bushbuckridge Local Municipality loves them and she promised that the municipality will have a celebration with the senior citizens every year. She urged them to teach the younger generation about the history of the country.
She also spoke about the importance of the senior citizens and said that the current generation wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the senior citizens. She urged them to continue reading and having library memberships.
“It is true that a person never stops learning, reading helps us a lot. Through reading we relieve stress, we acquire indigenous knowledge, our kids today don’t even know healthy traditional food. They always eat junk, fatty food. But it would help us if we were to teach them. We should be like Solomon, who asked for wisdom when God asked him what he wished for” said Nkuna.
Nkuna also added that the municipality saw it fit that a budget is set aside every year for libraries. She urged the elderly to support the government in its efforts. She said the government places great trust on the senior citizens because they are trustworthy and they are always on time. She said without the support of these senior citizens, the government is going nowhere.
She also added that the current generation doesn’t have the knowledge that the senior citizens have, adding that some of them even reach matric without knowing how to read properly or how to answer the questions they are asked properly. She gave an example of how most senior citizens know how to read even though they didn’t go to school or reach matric. She told them that the knowledge they have is valuable so they should transfer it to the current generations.
“The issue of this Alzheimer’s disease is a very serious one and it is so serious that it requires our efforts as your carers, children and grandchildren that we take proper care of you. This tendency of accusing the elderly of witchcraft when they are old and frail and starting to lose their memory is not on. It happens most of the time even where I stay. I think that awareness campaigns about this Alzheimer’s disease should be done in our communities, to the relevant people” she said.
Nkuna told the seniors that the municipality didn’t just call them. She said they wanted to show the appreciation they have for the senior citizens. She said it is vital that they be taken out once in a while so their minds get refreshed. She told them that they wanted to have lunch with the senior citizens because they love them, and that they always wanted to give them some presents even though they were not much.
“We love you as Bushbuckridge Local Municipality, may the good Lord bless you and also extend the days of your lives. May He also keep you safe and strong for us. Today, we want to share the little we have with you. We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. May the Good Lord keep you safe and may you have safe journeys back home” Nkuna concluded.
Speaking to Bushbuckridge News, Nkuna said the event was held because they wanted to encourage the seniors to acquire more language, to reduce stress and to show them that Bushbuckridge local municipality loves them. She said they are hoping to do more than this in the coming years as this is going to be an annual event. She said those who are abusing the elderly will know that BLM cares about the senior citizens and that it is fighting against the abuse of the senior citizens.
One of the seniors who was present at the event, Mr Enock Lebyane from College View said what the municipality is doing for the elderly is a good thing. He said they should continue to guide them into leading healthy lifestyles because as pensioners they will also be able to call their peers to join. However, he called on to the municipality to use a more local venue because that will attract more pensioners. He said what they experienced on the day is no different from exercising.
Another senior citizen, Ms Aggy Mohlala from Bushbuckridge said she is very happy with what the municipality has done for them and the gifts they have given them. She said the municipality should keep on doing this as it makes them cheerful. She added that the information they received is also very helpful.
After four years of negotiations in and out of court, the Bushbuckridge Local Municipality (BLM) finally agreed with the worker’s union, SAMWU (South African Municipal Workers’ Union), to settle the progression payments, as imposed by court order. This comes after employees downed tools in protest against what they labelled “incompetent leadership”, prior to the outcome of the meeting in the afternoon on Monday, the 29th of October.
According to the members of SAMWU, the municipality owes them between 6-10% for each month for the past four years. The matter was then concluded in a prolonged meeting that seemed to be angering the impatient employees outside the municipal offices at the BLM headquarters who continued chanting and singing struggle songs throughout. It is alleged that the municipality owes the employees an estimated figure of around R43 Million.
“The good news is, we’ve finally agreed on a settlement plan with management, and as a union, we are happy that the matter has come to an end. They promised to pay us within three days,” said Lawrence Mahole, SAMWU deputy chairperson.
Speaking on behalf of BLM, communications officer Aubrey Mnisi said; “This matter is receiving attention, as the court has directed us to resolve this matter in accordingly, management is adhering to settle the matter. The only issue is that we don’t have all the money at once, but we agreed with them in principle that we’re going to initiate the first two payments this month and also in November, and the rest of the settlement will be paid up by December 2019.”
“This relates to a council resolution that was taken in 2014, which indicates that we need to pay progressions, it means we have to progress from one particular salary notch to the next level in a year, so those are the monies that were owed from 2014 until now,” Mnisi added.
When asked why they took so long to reach such conclusion, Mnisi said it’s because of the legal case that was still pending. “The reason there were delays is because there was a court case that went on for about two years, and it was finalised this year.” He concluded.
Everything came to a standstill as residents of College View in Bushbuckridge protested against lack of water. Pupils could not get to school, cars and taxis were prevented from leaving or entering the area, roads were blocked with burning tyres, rocks and logs and some of the businesses could not operate. As residents blocked roads, while singing struggle songs as they protested on Wednesday Morning.
According to Mr Sidney Khoza, who is the Ward 9 Councillor of Better Residents Association (BRA), more than 20 residents came to him and complained that they have been without water for almost a month. Khoza said the residents told him that when they call the ANC ward councillor, he doesn’t come to them or attend to their problems.
Khoza told Bushbuckridge News that this ANC municipality has previously promised the residents that Rand Water will be leaving Bushbuckridge and the municipality will be reticulating its own running water system. He said they promised that by 1st July, this year the whole of Bushbuckridge would be having running water but that has not happened.
“Another problem is the fact that some of these residents in areas like College View have flushing toilets inside their houses so it becomes a problem when they don’t have water. They asked me to call a community meeting and that is where all the stakeholders from College View and Malepoleng as well as the community members decided to have a shut down in the area” said Khoza.
When asked, Khoza also explained that they didn’t stop these learners from going to school; he said the learners were turned away since there were no teachers at school. He explained that most of these teachers live outside College View so they couldn’t enter the area. He added that the community had to do this because some of these kids go to school without having had a bath.
He told Bushbuckridge News that they are hoping that the municipality will give them a positive answer with regards to their water problems. He said that if they don’t get the answers they are hoping for then the strike will continue until they get the answers they want.
According to one of the residents, Ms Gleda Sihlangu, she has been without water for the past three weeks. Sihlangu said as a result, everyday things like washing and doing laundry becomes a problem. She said they end up being called by teachers at schools complaining about these kids who come to school unclean.
“We now have to buy water and on top of that we have to push wheelbarrows to get the same water we are buying. This is very sad because places like Matenteng have running water yet they don’t pay any municipal rates and we do. Three months ago we were sent bills which we paid, yet we don’t have water” said Sihlangu.
Another resident, Ms Zandile Khoza, echoed Sihlangu’s sentiments. She said they are fed up with the treatment they are getting from the municipality; they are fed up with having to buy water and having to get water from very far. She added that it is not healthy to live this long without clean running water.
Speaking to Bushbuckridge News, the Executive Mayor of Bushbuckridge Local Municipality said the municipality arranged plumbers to check what the problem might be with the water supply in that area. At the time of going to print, these plumbers were still busy at the area and according to the mayor, they were making progress.
Khoza did confirm this and told Bushbuckridge News that the water problem has been fixed. He said this shows that water has been available all along but the municipality is making it unavailable to residents. According to Khoza it is wrong that the municipality only responds after the community has protested.
“The municipality only responds after the residents have protested, after the residents have blocked the roads, after tyres have been burned and people not going to work. This is wrong because the municipality didn’t fetch this water anywhere, they just switched it on. It seems like they are denying people water” he said.
He further said that, if the municipality fails to pay Rand Water now, how are they going to reticulate their own running water system and that this might result in residents not having clean water. He also added that the residents want a service provider who is going to do their job well.
Tuesday the 2nd of October 2018 was the day on which the Bushbuckridge Executive mayor, along with a team of Members of the Mayoral Committee (MMCs), ward councillors and other municipal workers took to the streets of College View on a door-to-door campaign in the afternoon to remind the residents to pay their municipal bills and get a 40% discount.
The municipality encouraged residents to ensure that they pay their accounts in order to ensure that the municipality has enough resources to improve service delivery.
“Last year we had a similar campaign whereby residents were offered a 50% discount,” said Aubrey Mnisi, the communications officer for the local municipality of Bushbuckridge.
According to information provided, the municipality is owed a total sum of R1, 2680 000.00 by the residents, businesses and government departments such as schools, libraries and others.
“The only way we would be able to improve service delivery in our communities is through the payment of our accounts. Let’s encourage our neighbours to take advantage of the discount before March 2019.” Mnisi added.
The residents, though, had their fair share of issues against the municipality. Others complained about lack of statement receipts, while others mentioned that they do not receive some of the services they’re expected to pay for, such as water, waste removal, drainage system and others.
The campaign continued on the following day in Dwarsloop Phase 1&2. Joseph Hlatshwayo, a pensioner from phase 1 suggested that the municipality should be lenient and introduce a flat rate of at least R200.00 per month. He also added; “As pensioners we cannot afford to pay more than that, so the municipality must find a way to make it work for us.”
MMC for Finance, Phineas Selowe told the media; “We took a resolution to embark on this programme and also developed an internal programme in terms of revenue enhancement strategy. Last year, through a similar programme we managed to collect R10 million from these communities, and I am hopeful that this year we’ll manage far more than that.”
The executive mayor further said that they will attend to all the concern raised by community members, and that, going forward, every resident from the semi-developed areas should be able to pay their municipal accounts without any hassles.