Note to Readers:

Please Note: The editor of White Refugee blog is a member of the Ecology of Peace culture.

Summary of Ecology of Peace Problem Solving: The problems of poverty, unemployment, war, crime, violence, food shortages, food price increases, inflation, police brutality, political instability, loss of civil rights, vanishing species, garbage and pollution, urban sprawl, traffic jams, toxic waste, racism, sexism, Nazism, Islamism, feminism, Zionism etc; are the ecological overshoot consequences of humans living in accordance to a Masonic War is Peace international law social contract that provides humans the ‘right to breed and consume’ with total disregard for ecological carrying capacity limits.

Ecology of Peace factual reality: 1. Earth is not flat; 2. Resources are finite; 3. When humans breed or consume above ecological carrying capacity limits, it results in resource conflict; 4. If individuals, families, tribes, races, religions, and/or nations want to reduce class, racial and/or religious local, national and international resource war conflict; they should cooperate to implement an Ecology of Peace international law social contract that restricts all the worlds citizens to breed and consume below ecological carrying capacity limits; to sustainably protect and conserve natural resources.

EoP v WiP NWO negotiations are documented at MILED Clerk Notice.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

No Free Ride: Non-violent Rule of Law Service Delivery Protests




Non-violent Rule-of-Law service delivery protests focussed on solutions
[vs.]
Violent “liberation struggle” service delivery protests focussed on destruction


Fitting the Bill

Carte Blanche
19 April 2009 07:00



Date: 19 April 2009 07:00 ** Producer: Bernadette Cook
Presenter: Bongani Bingwa ** Researcher: Wynand Grobler
Show: Carte Blanche

Driving down this derelict and pot-holed road you'd be forgiven for thinking you're in Zimbabwe. But it's a familiar sight in towns around South Africa where infrastructure is crumbling due to a lack of maintenance.

Here in Sannieshof, in the North-West, municipal neglect has left Carien Visser angry.

Carien Visser (Sannieshof Ratepayers Association): "The worst stages of that was round about 2005 when we started experiencing no service delivery. Buildings and everything going dilapidated, no water, the sewerage running down our streets, faulty accounts, street surfaces going, our township outside without water, without sanitation."

Bongani Bingwa (Carte Blanche presenter): "This is the Sannieshof Hotel. If you are a visitor to this town you will most likely stay here. But instead of being greeted by pretty tourist sites you've got sewerage flowing down the main street."

A visit to the unkempt Sannieshof sewerage works soon revealed why.

Carien: "Here is supposed to be a pump that has to pump away that sludge [on screen] like in every 10 ten days... every 10 to 14 days it should be pumped to the sludge dry dams. This pump hasn't been here in five, six years."

Maintenance is clearly not a priority here - the site is littered, the fences are cut and there are even exposed plug points.

Carien: "This is the pump room - this is the two pumps. The one that's furthest away is the one that is in operation now. It's got to have four fan belts; it only works with two fan belts at present. The one here close to us has got to work with three fan belts and it is only working with two..."

But efficiency isn't really the municipal watchword in these parts. The landfill site is spilling over onto a provincial road. But then again, perhaps the aim is to disguise the roads gutted with pot-holes! In desperation 79-year-old Sannieshof resident, Lydie Vermeulen, with the help of her gardeners physically fixed her road.

Bongani: "So all these holes... all the bits we see covered along the road, used to be big holes?"

Lydie Vermeulen (Sannieshof resident): "Yes. We didn't interfere with the tarmac. We just filled the hole."

Bongani: "If I look behind us there's quite a few of them?"

Lydie: "There's a lot of them. We worked three days to do it."

Residents of the township Sakhile near Standerton in Mpumalanga protest over a poor service delivery and corruption in their city council. Photo: SAPA Times: No Service Delivery Protests by 2014?

60km down the road in the town of Ottosdal the residents are battling with similar problems, as services grind to a halt and their infrastructure disintegrates. Engela Pretorius heads up their ratepayers union.

Engela Pretorius (Ottosdal Ratepayers Association): "As a rule the town has no water. There are parts that never have water. [There are] holes in the middle of the road that sometimes you can't even use the road."

Engela and husband Leon have to keep emergency supplies of water because they never know when their taps will run dry. But ironically the streets of Ottosdal are flooded with water from broken pipes.

Engela: "This is a leaking water pipe that the municipality tried to fix. I took the first photographs here more than a month ago. There was no water here at that stage. Then they worked on the pipe and the hole was just left open."

And, as in Sannieshof, sewerage and blocked drains leak contaminated water into the suburbs.

Engela: "The water constantly overflows here. Anyone can see this is not a day or two's putrid water that runs down here and into the road. As a result the road is damaged."

Bongani: "The challenges facing Sannieshof and Ottosdal are by no means unique. Carte Blanche has been inundated with emails, phone calls and faxes and they're all saying the same thing. Throughout the country, many municipalities are just not delivering."

Carien and Engela's complaints fell on deaf ears.

Engela: "Every time we have no water I send them an email, I phone them and I fax them a letter. I get no feedback - nothing."

Bongani: "What have you been told by the municipality - why is this not being fixed?"

Carien: "It's none of my business. They say it is their property."

Bongani: "After several attempts to [contact] the municipal manager our calls have remained unanswered. We are now here [Tswaing Municipality] to get answers."

“No houses no World Cup”: Residents of Riverlea, south of Johannesburg, stoned police vehicles, blockaded roads, burnt tyres and torched trees during protests against poor service delivery. Residents live within sight of the R1-billion Soccer City stadium that will host the World Cup opening and closing matches. Times: Riverlea Residents Demand 2010 Employment

Bongani: "We'd like to see the municipal manager - we're from Carte Blanche."

We were directed to an office at the back of the building where we found the man responsible for the smooth running of Sannieshof and Ottosdal - Tswaing Municipal manager Dakota Legoete

Bongani: "I'm Bongani Bingwa from Carte Blanche. We've been trying to get hold of your office to see if we can do an interview with you and we haven't had any responses. So we thought we'd come this afternoon and just grab five minutes of your time."

Dakota Legoete (Tswaing Municipal manager): "Yes, I think there's no problem."

Bongani: "We've seen many examples of infrastructural breakdowns within your municipality."

Dakota: "Ja - we are doing a master plan for the municipality currently. That involves our whole infrastructure, including the backlogs in terms of maintenance."

Master plan? We saw no evidence of it in either town.

Bongani: "But, with respect, some of these things don't need planning and studies. Things like litter and maintenance are basic management issues."

Dakota: "Yes, I fully agree with you."

Bongani: "So why aren't we seeing that management?"

Dakota: "No, no, we are facing it..."

Bongani: "You are the municipal manager; why are we seeing this level of neglect?"

Dakota: "I've raised those things with the technical services and they are receiving attention."

But Engela and Carien are not convinced. They have formed ratepayers unions and they are withholding their rates.

Carien: "So it was a question of, if we do not help ourselves, nobody else will come to help us."

“No houses no World Cup”: Residents of Riverlea, south of Johannesburg, stoned police vehicles, blockaded roads, burnt tyres and torched trees during protests against poor service delivery. Residents live within sight of the R1-billion Soccer City stadium that will host the World Cup opening and closing matches. Times: Riverlea Residents Demand 2010 Employment

Both women are using the money collected from residents to solve their town's service delivery backlog.

Bongani: "What work are you doing here?"

Engela: "We started at the cemetery yesterday to get it cleaned up. It's looking a lot better already. The grass was this [shows over 1m] high. We are cutting it with a weed eater to make it easier to weed. Today we got tractors and trailers from the farmers. They have given them to us for free so that we can clean up, load the refuse and take it away."

Step by step they are restoring dignity to their town with their intensive cleanup campaign. Carien's solved her town's water problems by refurbishing an old borehole.

Carien: "We formed a water committee in Sannieshof. We got the best pump and in the end it cost us R12 300 to repair Borehole 6."

That's a lot less than the R2-million price tag that the municipality estimated. But then they don't seem to be at the top of their game when it comes to figures.

Carien: "I started paying the outstanding accounts of businesses that didn't want to offer service or repair stuff because of the outstanding accounts."

Carien says it's gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. When residents said their payments weren't reflecting on their accounts, she investigated.

Carien: "When we went to the post office... 'These people are mailing their cheques every month, what's happened here?' They said, 'Oh, no, no, Tswaing's mailbox is locked because they did not renew their mailbox.'"

Carien duly paid the bill. She filled the back of a bakkie with letters, mostly containing cheques for the municipality, and personally delivered it to the Tswaing offices. And since they did not have a key to the PO Box she coughed up the R75 for that as well.

Bongani: "There was a situation where there was mail in your postbox for months because the PO Box hadn't been paid for and you didn't have the key."

Dakota: "No, I cannot confirm that. All our postboxes are paid up and we [are] continue the service."

Really? But wait - there's more...

Carien: At one stage there [was] no licences that could have been issued in the whole Tswaing because of printers not having cartridges. So it was R2000 for that."

Bongani: "There was also a situation where licences couldn't be issued because the printers did not have any cartridges."

Dakota: "No, that's not the case. The only time when the licences were not issued was when there was an investigation by the provincial department of roads and transport."

We were starting to wonder if Dakota Legoete was out of touch, or was he having a memory lapse. It proved to be the latter.

Bongani: "So are the ratepayers - who have told us they have paid for those cartridges [and] they have paid for the PO Box - are they lying?"

Dakota: "No, I know about that particular situation, but they did it on a voluntary basis."

They also hope to help the people living in the adjacent townships - where communities of 20 000 are forced to share three taps.

Man: "No water comes out of the tap that they have installed."

Woman: "Sometime we stay without water. The municipality made promises, but nothing happens."

Bongani: "We are in Iraq, an in formal settlement just outside Ottosdal. There are three taps that service thousands of people in this area and none of them today have any water. So the people behind me have had to literally walk for kilometres just to get a drop."

Sowetho Service Delivery Protest. Photo: Chris Collingridge, The Star

Here there is no reticulated water or sewerage system.

Bongani: "Isn't access to clean water and sanitation a basic human right?"

Dakota: "That's correct. It's a basic human right in terms of Chapter 2 of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution."

Clearly a case of flagrant disregard by the authorities.

Taxpayers Union Chairman Jaap Kelder says ratepayers have had enough.

Jaap Kelder (Chairman - Taxpayers Union): "We've got about 240 towns throughout the country on our mailing list - of those 240 about 40 have declared disputes with their municipalities. And of those 40, 25 are withholding their monies. And the others are all in the process of getting there."

Bongani: "Is that legal?"

Jaap: "Yes. You declare a dispute in terms of common law. Common law is Roman Dutch law. Two parties have a contract; the one party does not perform and the other party does not have to perform. I've paid for my services, the municipality has not performed, therefore I am now entitled to withhold my money."

But Mogemetsi Mogodiri of the South African Local Government Association believes municipalities are delivering.

Mogemetsi Mogodiri (SA Local Government Association): "In terms of the law, ratepayers, residents and other consumers are supposed to pay their rates and taxes."

Bongani: "But also, in terms of the law, we should pay for services rendered."

Mogemetsi: "Yes!"

Bongani: "If you don't deliver the service I'm no obliged to pay you."

Mogemetsi: "Municipalities bill people for services which they have delivered."

Bongani: And if they don't deliver them, are ratepayers justified in withholding their money?"

Moegemetsi: "There is no way that I can bill you without delivering a service."

Cold comfort for communities who have lost faith in their management.

Bongani: "Municipal managers are appointed by mayors and town councils. So ultimately the administrators are answerable to the politicians and, until we can keep the two separate, it seems a lot of the service delivery problems experienced in small towns are here to stay."

But both Carien and Engela have vowed to fight for their towns.

Engela: "If the whole town belongs to the ratepayers association and we have the funds to do everything and we have our own implements, our own vehicles and staff to do our own thing, then I believe we can solve all of our problems."

Carien: "At least I can say I have tried and I couldn't save it. But in 10 years from now, if everything is like Zimbabwe, then will I not blame myself and ask why didn't I just try and see if I could make a difference in the life of other people?"

» » » » [Carte Blanche]
» » [Sannieshof Ratepayers Assoc. on Facebook]
» » [IOL: Stop Blaming Apartheid for Corruption]




Kelder urges ratepayers to stand together

Linda van der Westhuizen, Zoutnet
Date: 17 April 2009



“Services have deteriorated to such an extent that residents all over the country are saying enough is enough!” said Mr Jaap Kelder of the National Tax-payers’ Union on a visit to Louis Trichardt on April 2. In the front is Mr André Naudé, chairperson of the Chairpersons Association.

“Services have deteriorated to such an extent that residents all over the country say ‘Enough is enough!’ We are not going to live with the general maintenance deteriorating,” said Mr Jaap Kelder of the National Taxpayers’ Union (NTU) on a visit to Louis Trichardt.

“We need not let our country get to the stage of Zimbabwe. If we stand together, we will make this country work again!” Kelder said on April 2 when he addressed the Chairpersons Association (CA) at their annual general meeting. The NTU is not affiliated to any po-litical party. They advise ratepayers to get rid of party politics in local government.

Kelder has visited 240 towns and he found the same problems in every town. The problems include water supply interruptions, serious sewerage problems, problems with roads, waste removal and with the implementation of property rates. Formal disputes have been declared by 40 towns and others are in the process of declaring a dispute.

Residents work on the common law principle that if one party does not perform the other party does not need to perform. Due to the non-performance of a municipality, money is withheld and paid into a trust account. The next step, if a municipality still does not perform to the residents’ satisfaction, is that residents start performing their own services. A following step would be that community-based organisations act as a service provider. Sannieshof was quoted as an example of the latter, where the town has been run by the residents for the past year and the sewerage system has been made 90% functional again.

“We are not going to allow more sewerage into our rivers. The NTU will take over sewerage works. We cannot allow sewerage contamination to continue,” Kelder said. He explained that the situation is serious and that the European Union is contemplating a ban on all products from South Africa because of contamination.

Mr André Naudé, chairperson of the CA, said that it was necessary for ratepayers to stand up for their rights.

“If you don’t make sure that the law is complied with and take the necessary action, you might lose your rights and not regain them,” he said. The CA supported the Soutpansberg Rate Payers Association in the declaration of the dispute against the Makhado Municipality and the withholding of taxes.

Kelder said that the problem was not with the constitution, which is “generally a good one” but with the implementation of the constitution. The SA Local Government Association (SALGA) does, however, not agree with the route taken by frustrated ratepayers to withhold taxes. According to Fin24.com, a SALGA spokesperson said that this posed “a serious threat to service delivery” and called on dissatisfied ratepayers to approach the association to investigate complaints against municipalities that failed to perform.

» » » » [Zoutnet]
» » [National Taxpayers Union / Nationale Belastingbetalers Unie]
» » [National Taxpayers Union (Blog) / Nationale Belastingbetalers Unie (Blog)]




Ratepayers to lay down law

MyPortAlfred
Mon, 19/10/2009 - 11:15.



Chairman of National Taxpayers Union, Jaap Kelder; with Derek Victor, Pitt Fenn and Don Broedelet

The chairman of the National Taxpayers’ Union, Jaap Kelder (from left), with Derek Victor, Pitt Fenne and Don Broedelet PROMISING full support, Jaap Kelder, chairman of the National Taxpayers‘ Union (NTU) told the Ndlambe Action Group that ratepayers can determine the future of their towns.

The Ndlambe Action Group (NAG) invited Kelder to Port Alfred to address a meeting, also attended by the mayor, Vukile Balura, and municipal manager Roly Dumezweni. The group are challenging the municipality to improve service delivery and threatening to withhold payment of rates if their demands are not met.

The chairman of NAG, Derek Victor, handed in a list of complaints to the mayor including the unavailability of councillors and officials, the deterioration of essential services, lack of management, secrecy in a supposedly transparent enterprise, wastage of financial resources, doubtful accounting practices and political agendas in every aspect of daily management.

Victor suggested constructive negotiations under the chairmanship of well-known businessman Christo Nel.

“If not accepted we will declare a dispute and later withhold payment for rates and taxes,” Victor said, giving the council 21 days to respond.

Kelder said the real reason for the collapse of municipalities was outstanding debts from ratepayers. He said the African National Congress was to blame for this.

“When I stopped paying my municipal account my electricity was quite rightly cut off but this did not happen in the townships,” Kelder said.

This followed after Kelder legally challenged the erstwhile Kempton Park municipality (KPM) on the principle of equal payment for equal services.

Kelder wanted municipalities to apply credit control of municipal debt in terms of their credit policies which must treat all debtors alike.

He also wanted all illegal electricity connections to be discontinued and the perpetrators prosecuted. - HENNIE MARAIS

» » » » [My Port Alfred]

» » [Dispatch: E.Cape Ratepayers Revolt]
» » [Fin24: Rates boycott a serious threat]
» » [M&G: Fed Up Towns withhold Municipal Taxes]
» » [SAMizdat: Militante en aggressiewe optrede hoef nie gewelddadig te wees nie]




Is intimidation the new form of electioneering in South Africa?

Maandag, 18 Augustus 2008
National Taxpayers Union: Press Statement



Protest by SANCO to Magistrates Court [Johan Mathee, Colesberg]

The following case study of recent events in Colesberg has been sent to you in order to illustrate a worrying trend in the ruling party's attitude to South Africa's Constitution.

Case Study: Colesberg

Background to Colesberg: like many towns in South Africa, service delivery in Colesberg has become dysfunctional. Public areas have become rubbish heaps, water supply is arbitrarily interrupted, in the townships raw sewage flows down the streets. The cemeteries are neglected and crumbling and have become unsafe to visit. The roads are full of potholes, street lights don't work and services have broken down completely. There has been no effort from the municipality to address any of these concerns.

The residents of Colesberg became dissatisfied with the neglect and deterioration of their town and earlier this year delivered a petition to the Mayor, Lilian Hermans, demanding that the services must be improved within three months. The municipality ignored the petition.

At the same time that the three month deadline expired, the town's 2008/9 budget came up for approval. It was announced that there were going to be enormous increases in rates (15% across the board). Salary increases in the Umsobomvu Municipality were suggested at a rate of 60%. The outrageous salary increases, coupled with rates increases along with no improvement in service delivery, was impossible for the ratepayers to swallow. The Colesberg Residents and Ratepayers Association (CIBBV) decided unanimously at their meeting on June 4th to declare a dispute with the council.

According to the Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000 (PDF), ratepayers may call a dispute with the council. During the duration of a dispute, council is prohibited from exercising credit controls until the dispute has been resolved. This therefore puts the onus on the council to solve the problem, and ratepayers may legally divert their rates into a trust account.

Simultaneously to the dispute the Auditor-General's report on the 2006/7 tax year for Colesberg was made public. According to the report, the council in June 2007 had an annual rates and service arrears of R35,7million. This indicated that no credit control was being exercised. It was clear from this report that the culture of non-payment was still flourishing in Colesberg. A survey was published at the same time as the Auditor-General's report, showing that, of the rates, 98% of payments came from the predominantly white suburbs while 64% was coming from the traditionally coloured suburbs. In the townships the payment rate was only 43%.

The Dispute:


ANC Youth League Protest [Johan Mathee, Colesberg]

In March the Municipality and the Council were informed that a dispute had been called against them. The CIBBV opened a trust account and ratepayers paid their rates and service fees into this trust account. Every month the CIBBV paid across to the municipality the component of the fees due for electricity and water supply. The rest of the money was held in trust.

This arrangement was not accepted by the Municipal Manager, Amos Mpela. He gave instructions that all the ratepayers in dispute should have their electricity cut off. However, the Municipal Systems Act No 32 of 2000 forbids this course of action while a dispute is in force, as well as the Electricity Supply Act. The CIBBV was then forced to take the Municipality to court to obtain an urgent interdict to compel the Municipal Manager to restore electricity. This was done and the court ordered the Municipal Manager to pay the court costs in his personal capacity.

In another instance the Municipal Manager ordered the electricity suspension to the house of a mother in the coloured township. This was a pre-paid customer and the CIBBV again obtained an interdict to help her get her electricity restored.

These two legal defeats spurred Mr Mpela to call in the help of the local South African National Civics Organisation (SANCO). On the day that the court in Colesberg was dealing with an interim order, brought by the CIBBV against the council, SANCO organized a protest march to deliver a memorandum to the court. The intention of the protest march appeared to be to intimidate the court. The Magistrate refused to accept the petition, calling it an attempt to interfere with the course of justice, and sent the protesters away.

The group were accompanied back to the township by the SAPD, but as soon as they arrived at the township they began to fight amongst themselves and the police were forced to use rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. The crowd then divided into two factions - one of Mbeki supporters and the others of Zuma supporters - who fought each other. In the days that followed this protest march, SANCO appeared to organize several illegal marches, some of which resulted in damage to property and looting of shops.

In an attempt to calm the situation, the chairman of the CIBBV, Johan Matthee, decided to suspend all contact with the council and municipality.

It was made clear that any negotiations would continue only when the marches and unrest was brought to a halt. But this only seemed to inflame the situation and an emergency meeting of the CIBBV was called, attended by the MEC for Safety and Security.

However, after this meeting SANCO stepped up the pressure and called for a boycott of all white-owned businesses in Colesberg. Because they did not know who was part of the dispute and who wasn't, it was declared a blanket boycott. Township residents who attempted to buy goods in white-owned shops were intimidated. Their goods were confiscated and destroyed. They were threatened that, if they continued to buy from white-owned shops, their houses would be burnt down. Several received death threats.

The situation now arose that a small group of SANCO members were holding a whole town hostage through threats and intimidation. A group of church ministers in Colesberg intervened when it became clear that township residents were suffering hunger and deprivation as they could not buy food.

Businesses in Colesberg were also suffering from the boycott and some were forced to temporarily close their doors. On Tuesday, 12 August, an emergency meeting was held at which most of the CIBBV members decided to suspend the dispute. Mathee resigned as chairman in protest.

ANC Youth League Protest [Johan Mathee, Colesberg]

However, two days later those members of the CIBBV who wished to continue the dispute formed a breakaway group with a duly constituted membership and declared the continuation of the dispute. Now called the Forum for Residents and Ratepayers of Colesberg (FCIBB), the members feel that the causes of the dispute have still not been dealt with and see it as their duty to restore service delivery in Colesberg in spite of SANCO's intimidation. Another of their goals is to pressure the municipality to improve their credit controls so that debt is diminished and the burden of payment does not always fall on a small group of ratepayers.

The most remarkable aspect to this entire dispute is the fact that only a small number of members had called the dispute. Only 3% of ratepayers were part of the dispute, therefore it is impossible to claim that they were doing any amount of damage to council coffers and it is difficult to justify the council's heavy handed approach to a small group of protesters. It is more likely that the council decided to stamp out protest as a matter of ego and political manoevering, rather than to redeem large amounts of income for the council. This is problematic, as South Africa's law makes it clear that there are legitimate avenues for citizen participation in local government.

Calling a dispute is one of these mechanisms. The Municipality and SANCO are therefore clearly in breach of the both the law and the Constitution.

In conclusion, service delivery is still an enormous problem in towns across South Africa, with more than 200 out of 280 municipalities declared dysfunctional. Most of the reasons for the problems have been identified (by the national government itself) as inexperienced and unqualified municipal staff - a situation stemming from the widespread practice of appointing party loyalists and family members into municipal positions instead of qualified staff. The actions of SANCO border on the criminal, and are clearly intended to stifle dissent against the ruling party. The fact that they have been allowed to get away with blatant intimidation is a worrying sign. With the forthcoming elections next year, such intimidation will most likely increase. It is clear the local councils do not have the capacity to improve service delivery, but instead of attempting to deal with the problems they are using force and intimidation to stifle dissent.

Communities are going to have to stand up for themselves and take matters into their own hands, in a legal and peaceful manner. Intimidation must be withstood. Municipal employees are servants to the ratepayer, not the other way round. Taxes must be paid for services, not for wasteful expenditure and for furthering political agendas.

With all the negative publicity surrounding Colesberg over the last few weeks, there has been a noticeable decline in tourism, on which Colesberg is dependent for much of its economic activity.


Mission statement of the NTU:

Neither the NTU nor any of its affiliated associations have any political agendas, and we endeavour to act in the best interests of all citizens of South Africa, regardless of race or religion.

For further comment on the situation in Colesberg, please contact Johan Matthee at 082-406-8248. For further information about the work of the NTU, please contact Jaap Kelder at 083-208-9314

» » » » [National Taxpayers Association]
» » [PDF: Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000]


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