Residents disrupt IDP meeting in Seaview

Community members take out their frustration on chairs during the rowdy Integrated Development Plan meeting in Seaview last night
Community members take out their frustration on chairs during the rowdy Integrated Development Plan meeting in Seaview last night
Image: Brian Witbooi

Yet another Integrated Development Plan (IDP) meeting was disrupted when residents of Ward 40 refused to listen to human settlements portfolio head Nqaba Bhanga last night.

While Bhanga attempted to start the business of the day and open the floor for the community to ask questions, some residents shouted they did not recognise him as he had not introduced himself.

A woman heckled him and said the ward was multilingual and he should speak in isiXhosa, Setswana, Shona and Zambian. He responded he would speak in all those languages.

Under a heavy police presence which included municipal security and the metro police, residents drowned out Bhanga with struggle songs and said they did not want to listen to him as he was not a resident of Ward 40.

Before the meeting at the Seaview Community Hall got under way, residents gathered in front of the entrance, refusing to sign the register as required to gain entry.

One resident, who did not want to reveal his name, shouted: “This is the sixth IDP meeting I’ve attended at this hall and I have never had to sign outside without the meeting having started. Why today all of a sudden. What’s changed?”

Eventually the group decided to sign under pseudonyms as one said: “A person’s name is a very expensive thing and signing your name away could even land you in jail.”

The meetings are intended for the city to outline the draft Integrated Development Plan and present the 2018-19 draft budget.

The meeting was one of several that have been disrupted.

Last week, several cars belonging to councillors were stoned in Colchester.

In Motherwell, an IDP official was assaulted.
During last night’s meeting, residents continued to sing while a police officer unsuccessfully tried telling some to take their seats.

After numerous attempts to get the attention of the rowdy crowd, Bhanga declared the meeting closed and walked out, followed by Nelson Mandela Bay councillors, including John Best, Masixole Zinto and Kabelo Mogatosi, and Ward 40 councillor Jason Grobbelaar.

Bhanga said he had closed the meeting because there was a clear intention to disrupt it.

“To us, the meeting went so well because everyone registered, we opened it, said our prayers and gave people the opportunity to contribute but there was a small group who didn’t want to listen,” he said.

Outside, one resident, who did not want to be named, said they had decided to collapse the meeting because some community members from Ward 40 had been evicted from their homes on Wednesday.

“Even when they provided us with a bus, they gave us a small bus because they didn’t want there to be more black people than white people.

“Our councillor, Jason, doesn’t recognise us here.

“The only time we see him is if we need proof of address.

“If they want this meeting to continue, they must hold it at the Kuyga Community Hall as initially scheduled,” he said.

Former Ward 40 councillor Thozamile Qushani blamed the municipality for how the meeting had gone and said it had not been communicated properly with residents.

Recent evictions had also angered the community,” he said.