Phoenix residents applaud voting station victory
Durban - The decision by the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) to retain Stonebridge Community Hall as a voting station in ward 48 has been hailed as a victory for the residents in Phoenix.
In February, the Daily News reported that Stonebridge residents picketed outside the Durban City Hall after news that the MDB, an independent body responsible for determining the boundaries of municipalities and wards, was moving Stonebridge Hall from ward 48 to ward 54.
The announcement was made on February 17 by the city manager. The move caused an uproar as the ward councillor’s office is behind the hall. Residents had until April 30 to appeal against changes to ward boundaries.
The move would have meant that residents would go from having their councillor nearby to having to travel to Nhlungwane Community Hall 8km away, where the ward 54 councillor’s office is located.
Residents of Stonebridge and Minorities of South Africa (Mosa) handed over a memorandum to the MDB, opposing the move and stating that the community wanted the ward borders to remain as they were. This decision appears in the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Gazette dated October 1 under the delimitation of municipal wards in terms of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act.
Mosa national chairperson Ronnie Veeran welcomed the decision. He said a petition was signed by thousands of residents objecting to the voting station being removed from ward 48 and being incorporated in ward 54 in KwaMashu.
“We took the fight to the Durban City Hall. It did not make sense in the first instance to move Stonebridge Hall, the largest voting station or voting district in Phoenix, and incorporate it into ward 54, which is not part of Phoenix. This would have meant that the people of Stonebridge would have their ward councillor based in KwaMashu, at huge inconvenience to them. The movement of the voters roll from Stonebridge Hall would have affected the registered voters in terms of service delivery had the proposal gone ahead,” Veeran said.
“It was a very tedious exercise, but our members walked the streets, collecting signatures of more than 2000 registered voters which were handed over to the board before the deadline date, together with our motivation for the objections - naturally we feel vindicated,” he added.
Stonebridge Civic and Ratepayers’ Association and Operation Dignity for Older Persons spokesperson Robert Beharilall said he was excited that the MDB had come to their senses.
“The voting station at the community hall is convenient for senior citizens and residents, especially those using public transport. The travel costs to get into KwaMashu would have doubled. It would also take time. I am glad the status quo remained,” he said.