Municipal News

Forward or down the drain?

Michele du Plessis

The crumbling infrastructure – water, sewage and electricity – lie in mismanagement, corruption, looting and fruitless expenditure. The municipality cannot fix all the problems in Sabie, Graskop and Lydenburg.

So, what are the residents to do? Protest, riot, burn the municipal offices? Or is there a different solution? Some people will say no, there is nothing we can do and some people will say yes, absolutely, we can fix our town. If the residents of Harrismith can stand up and take matters into their own hands, why can’t Sabie residents not do the same?

“As a Town, we are facing a situation where if we don’t take things into our own hands, we are doomed. While a small group of us are working diligently to try to “save” our Town, the silence from the citizens is deafening,” Captain Gwilym Rees, Chairman of the Sabie Ratepayers Association and spokesperson for the Combined Chambers of Lydenburg, Graskop and Sabie said.

“Did you know that Sabie’s sewerage treatment plant hasn’t worked properly in months?  Did you know that untreated sewerage water is running into the Sabie River and has done for months?  Did you know that the SRA, when we discovered this, arranged for inspection by the IUCMA who have jurisdiction over our catchment area and they are now holding TCLM to account?  Did you know that one of our volunteers took time off work to inspect the clarifier pond motor and establish why it wasn’t working?”

Captain Rees said that they have a very small group of volunteers in Sabie who do what we can but we cannot do enough.  “We need more volunteers who are prepared to give of their time and energy to help us turn our town around.  Richard Salt and I had a really good and positive chat to Stanley Nyalungu (Acting Sabie Unit Manager) last week.  Stanley agreed that we should renew our co-operative relationship.  I have chatted to him before and one thing that comes across strongly is that he is very pro-Sabie.  Unfortunately, he gets very little (if any) support from his managers in Lydenburg.  That’s where we should be stepping in.  We must try to assist Stanley wherever possible and hold those in Lydenburg to account.”

Quite a lot goes on behind the scenes to keep the town going.  “That said, we need support.  You can do this by joining the SRA and perhaps offering to be one of our band of volunteers.  We are not all physically active but some of us still give of our minds and the wealth of expertise that resides in our town of Sabie,” Captain Rees said.

According to Captain Rees, if Sabie loses the case against Eskom, our services and infrastructure will be under so much pressure that unless we step in, our town will die.

“We cannot let this happen! The Sabie financial response to the Eskom Resistance fund has, I’m afraid, been found to be seriously wanting.  Many people who I know personally, have contributed what they can – even a few hundred Rand, because that’s all they can afford; but every contribution, no matter how great or small, makes a difference.”

“If we have no power for 10, 14 or more hours per day (consider that Eskom has even threatened full power shut-down) this infringes upon our Human Rights because:

Many, if not most businesses will close or go onto short time. Large scale lay-offs/unemployment will follow. Widespread poverty will occur.

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