The Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU) say the City of Cape Town has for the past month frustrated their efforts to obtain the Service Delivery Agreements between the city and refuse removal contractors.
The organisations say the information should be freely available as it involves the expenditure of public money and say they will take legal action should the city not hand over the documents
The request to obtain the Service Delivery Agreements (SDAs) is part of the SJC and NU’s investigation into the state of refuse collection in Cape Town townships and informal settlements which they say appear to be “irregular and of very poor quality”.
“ Refuse is often left rotting for days or weeks, contributing to the spread of disease,” stated the SJC and NU in a statement sent to Cape Town Executive Mayor Patricia De Lille on Wednesday.
The SDAs were initially requested from the city by the NU (formerly the Centre for Law and Social Justice) on September 19 in order to ascertain what the city required of their service providers.
Since then, repeated efforts to obtain the SDAs have been fruitless, states the organisation.
“Despite sending several emails and letters, making several phone calls, and threatening legal action, we are yet to see the SDAs which by law should in any event be immediately available to the public. Without the SDAs, it is impossible to determine the particular duties of government and private providers to hold them to account,” stated SJC coordinator Gavin Silber.
In an interview yesterday Silber said they would take legal action if the city did not provide the SDAs.
“We have requested the Executive Mayor (Patricia de Lille) to investigate why the documents have not been released. We are calling on her to act. Why is it taking so long to make available those documents?” said Silber, “we requested them one month ago.”
He said the SDAs should immediately be accessible at all municipal offices.
“As members of the Right to Know campaign we obviously feel this is a violation of the community’s right to know,” he said.
Nosisa Manyisana, 51, a resident in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, said refuse in Makhaza was collected once a week every Monday evening.
But by the middle of the week it had already piled up on the street and there were no refuse bins supplied to informal settlements.
Residents were only provided with plastic refuse bags, she said, and when these were full they were dumped on the street.
“Dogs eat from the plastic bags and tear the plastic bags apart. By the time they come to collect the refuse is all over the place,” she said.
She said young children played in dirty environment and picked up condoms from the torn refuse plastic bags and played with them.
“We are very concerned about our health as well as that of our children,” she said.
“We need to review the contract agreement between the City and its refuse contractors. It’s very hard to hold local government and service providers to account without knowing what is in their contract agreement,” said NU coordinator Fatima Hassan.
De Lille’s spokesperson Solly Malatsi said the city admitted that refuse collection was a “huge challenge”.
Malatsi said the city’s outsourcing of refuse removal contractors ensured the refuse could be timeously removed and supported local entrepreneurs.
The city would spendR96 million for refuse removal during this financial year, spread among 14 companies, creating 558 job opportunities for previously unemployed people from local communities, he said.
Regarding making the SDAs available, he said: “The Mayor has been in contact with the leadership of the SJC and she ensured that the information requested was given to the SJC today,” he said. — Peter Luhanga