Thousands march over slow delivery

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By MATT MEDVED and ZARA NICHOLSONpage_6562759

Among more than a thousand ANC supporters who protested against the DA-led city council’s “failure to deliver services” was a wheelchair-bound Khayelitsha resident, furious that her water had been cut even after she had told the city that she received a disability grant.

ANC leaders, members and supporters took to the streets in the city centre yesterday with posters slamming DA policies on evictions, water cuts and high rates. The ANC said these policies were detrimental to poor communities.

The protest comes after the City of Cape Town sent pink letters, a final warning, to residents asking that they pay their municipal bills or their water or electricity supplies would be cut off.

Maggie Mogwera, 53, from A section in Khayelitsha, joined the huge crowd in her wheelchair as the protesters marched from Keizersgracht to the civic centre on the Foreshore to hand over a memorandum to Helen Zille, mayor and DA leader.

“Yesterday when I came home my water was off,” Mogwera said.

“I feel like Helen (Zille) is taking my rights away from me because if she is taking away my water, then I have no rights, that is why I am marching.

“I made arrangements after they sent me a pink letter and they know that I am living on a grant.

“This is the second time my water was cut off.”

Mogwera has been receiving a grant since 2000.

Her letter showed that she owed the city about R36 000.

Protesters reached the civic centre around lunchtime and were met by a heavy police presence.

The steps leading to Zille’s office were barricaded with with barbed wire two metres high.

The ANC provincial leadership, Premier Ebrahim Rasool and leaders of supporting organisations spoke to the crowd before their memorandum was received and signed by Dan Plato, the Mayco member for housing.

The memorandum said that under the DA-rule, the city had issued 455 000 pink letters threatening to cut off water and electricity supplies.

Most of these had been sent to poor people.

The memorandum also said that the city had cut water to 46 594 homes and electricity to 16 840.

“With such high rates and service charges, the aged, unemployed and poor simply cannot afford to live in dignity. If these are examples of your liberal values and so called professionalism in government, we reject them,” the memorandum said.

It also called on the city to ensure that evictions, water and electricity cuts “which target the poor” be stopped immediately.

Philippi resident James Miwnie, 47, said: “I have gone for three months without water and I was served one of those pink letters, my rates have gone up.

“I want to stand for my rights for a place to stay, water to drink and energy to cook my supper.”

Miwnie said he was struggling to feed and clothe his six children since he lost his job in publishing seven years ago, and had taken to selling sweets on the streets of Cape Town.

“Helen Zille must drop the costs because most people are unemployed and the rest are sick.”

In response to the march, the city’s multiparty government issued a statement saying that several of the points raised by the ANC march organisers “contain false allegations”.

“The complaints around service delivery are hypocritical, given that we have improved on the ANC’s previous performance in Cape Town,” the statement said.

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~ by Matt Medved on May 17, 2007.

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