AT least three ward councillors’ offices in Motherwell have been closed by irate residents amid allegations of political infighting and poor housing delivery in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Offices of councillors Aaron Nyikilana (ward 54), Thembile Nkosiyapantsi (ward 57) and Sindiswa Mtimkulu (ward 23) were closed by residents about two weeks ago.
The offices of councillors Mthunzi Madolo (ward 55) and Linda Tom (ward 56) were also closed last month but later reopened.
The councillors allegedly supported Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Zanoxolo Wayile for the ANC regional chairman position at the elective conference in April where Nceba Faku was re-elected as chairman.
Motherwell resident Thanduxolo Doda said the offices had been closed under the guise that the councillors had failed to deliver housing in the area.
A stand-off ensued on Friday between a group supporting Nyikilana and those against him.
The police stood between the groups, who were armed with sticks as they sang freedom songs, taunting each other.
The group supporting Nyikilana had marched from NU12 to NU30 to try to open Nyikilana’s office.
When a ward councillor’s office is closed, services such as obtaining proof of address documents, reporting service delivery issues and getting information on community projects come to a standstill.
Doda said: “This is a political matter, it has got nothing to do with housing. The closing of the ward councillor’s office is an attack against the councillors who are against Nceba Faku.
“These people [who have closed the office] are being used by ANC ward 54 branch secretary Nomakhaya Ntozini and (Motherwell resident) Siphiwo Dayimani, who support Faku.
“They use vulnerable people who want RDP houses to be at the forefront so that it appears as if this is housing-related.”
Dayimani said Nyikilana had failed to deliver housing in the area and that he had not called any community meeting since being elected as a councillor in the municipal elections last year.
But Motherwell resident Andile Mazitshana said Nyikilana had done everything “in his power” to engage municipal officials about housing in the township.
The metro has a housing backlog of 92000 which needs R11.4-billion to address.
Nyikilana said they would hold a community meeting today to address the closure of his office.
“What is critical at this stage is to open the office. The concerned group is blocking my community meetings. They should not block service delivery,” Nyikilana said.
Ntozini denied she was inciting people to close Nyikilana’s office, saying: “The councillor doesn’t call meetings and he doesn’t recognise us as the branch executive committee. People feel he has got a bad attitude and want the office to be closed because they have lost confidence in him. I have never told a meeting that people should fight with the councillor.”
Dayimani said: “We are not using anyone. The residents’ reasons for closing the office are valid. They want housing delivery.”
Nkosiyapantsi said: “Residents are demanding that my office be opened because they can’t get services. It was closed down by a few individuals because of cliques between us [as the ANC]. This is political. There is an agenda behind this. They want the people to panic and say I’m not effective as a councillor.”
Mtimkulu said: “I’m running the office from my home now because I’m a public servant, I have to serve the community. I don’t know when the office will be opened. I’m still waiting for a political intervention from the region.”
ANC regional secretary Zandisile Qupe said: “We are aware of the closed offices in Motherwell. Residents complained to us that they are not getting [proper] services from the public representatives there.
“We are currently raising the issue with the municipality.”