News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Saturday February 16th 2019

Philippi shack dwellers form own committees, bypass councillor

Sandiso Phaliso

Residents of five informal settlements in Philippi have given a vote of no confidence to their ward councillor by forming their own committees to represent them.

The residents want the City of Cape Town to engage with their committee structure, effectively bypassing the councillor.

But the City says while there is nothing to stop residents from forming groups to highlight their concerns, these will not be considered as replacements for ward councillors.

Residents from Siyahlala, Baghdad, Phantsi Ko Cingo, Emangcwabeni and School Site informal settlements complain that their COPE ward councillor Bongani Mini is not transparent and does not report back to them when they raise concerns.

The establishment of the committees – formed during a series of community meetings on the weekend of 13 and 14 June – follows street protests by residents of Siyahlala and Emangcwabeni informal settlements earlier in June in which police fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters.

Siyahlala committee member Nokuzola Sidumo said each informal settlement would have a committee with eight members. Two members from each of these committees would form a central committee to represent all informal settlements.

She said conditions in the informal settlement were “pathetic”.

The area was overcrowded and there were too few services.
People wanted to be moved from the area “as soon as the City can”.

Nompumelelo Macingwana, 60, who lives in a two-room shack in Siyahlala informal settlement with three grandchildren, said she approved of the committee’s formation.

Macingwana said she had lived in the settlement since 1998 and conditions had deteriorated instead of improving.

“I have lost confidence in Mini. We don’t know which side he is on and that is why people have decided to form their own committees,” said Macingwana.

Mini said he had heard of the committees, but that he was the councillor and that residents would have to go through him if they were dissatisfied.

People should approach his office or wait for the next monthly community meeting.

City spokesperson Jan Kruger said the committees did not have the statutory authority of ward committees.

“Their bid to sideline allegedly ineffective ward councillors would thus not have legal authority and, not having been elected, they would not be considered by the City of Cape Town to be replacements for Ward Councillors.”

Kruger said the most effective way for the residents to highlight their concerns would be to make their grievances a matter of record by writing to the relevant party whips.
— West Cape News

Tags: philippi

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