Steps to save Helenvale project

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From left, Bicks Ndoni, Zukile Jodwana and Christian Martin

Move to address issues as funding threatened

THE Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality wants to completely review the Helenvale urban renewal programme following community protests and threats to disrupt the multimillionrand development in the area.

Disgruntled community members met deputy mayor Bicks Ndoni, political head of economic development Zukile Jodwana and Bhisho MPL Christian Martin yesterday.

The meeting was to begin talks with residents who claim that the programme implementer, the Mandela Bay Development Agency, has failed them.

MBDA chief executive Pierre Voges and board chairman Motse Mfuleni attended.

 

The group also claims that only a few connected community members benefited from local jobs.

The metro cannot afford instability in the project as this could result in its co-funders, German development bank KfW, pulling out.

Mayor Danny Jordaan’s chief of staff, Mlungisi Ncame, said yesterday the mayor had sent Ndoni, Jodwana and Martin to listen to the grievances raised.

“We will go back to the community to begin a total review of the development facilitation, to look at the role of the MBDA and to see what structures are needed to ensure development is smooth.

“We have noted that some of the issues are because of differences between individuals which impact negatively on development. We want to address those.”

Ncame said Jodwana was tasked to lead the process to convene a series of workshops between community members and the MBDA to create a platform to explain how the project should unfold and, hopefully, to address residents’ grievances.

“The mayor wants to be involved in that and as a former board member of the MBDA, he has the benefit of understanding some of the issues.”

One of the protesters who attended yesterday’s meeting, Sam Daniels, said: “They are planning to do a workshop soon that will explain how the project works and they will also give us an opportunity to talk about our grievances.

“Until the broader meeting happens we cannot say we are happy, we will see after the workshop how it goes.”

In a long list of grievances sent to Jordaan earlier this month, the group also demanded that a communityelected structure – the Program Advisory Committee (PAC) – which was intricately involved in the planning and implementation of the programme, be removed.

They claimed undue political interference in the PAC, which they said resulted in only a 20% success rate for the agency in Helenvale.

MBDA spokesman Luvuyo Bangazi said the PAC was elected following a proper process of public participation which reached nearly 2 000 residents.

This was why the KfW had refused any changes to the PAC, saying it was told the structure was apolitical and elected by the community, as per its requirements.

It therefore saw no legitimate reason for changes. Also, in a letter to Voges, which The Herald has seen, the bank said PAC members were already adequately trained for their tasks in the implementation of the project. “Cancelling 15 previously elected PAC members would endanger the relationship of trust thus far built up between Safety and Peace through Urban Upgrading and the community,” it reads.

Bangazi said: “The withdrawal of funding by KfW bank is a real possibility. Remember, they have done so before, in Mdantsane.

“The funder prefers a nonpolitical, community- based approach to all projects.”

-Nwabisa Makunga and Avuyile Mngxitama-Diko

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