By Bulelani Phillip
Some Cape Town residents have warned of more street protests in the run-up to the local government elections if the city's leadership does not deliver on its promises to accelerate service delivery.
In fact, residents of QQ section in Khayelitsha have planned a march to the mayor's office on Wednesday in order to give her "formal warning" of planned protests if the city does not immediately provide them with better access to water, electricity, sanitation and refuse collection.
The Cape Argus visited the community last week to find out if the city had dealt with their concerns, raised during protest action last year. The community took to the streets in July, burning tyres and even blocking the N2 freeway in a bid to highlight the slow or non-existent delivery of municipal services.
"We want these services to be delivered immediately," said Mzonke Poni, a QQ community leader. "If it means we must go back to the streets again, we will do that."
QQ section, which is along the N2, is home to 900 families and a total population of more than 3 000 people. Yet residents have to share six waterpoints, with one standpipe for every 150 households.
There are no toilets and residents either have to beg for the chance to use one in the nearby Q section or squat on any open field along the N2. There is no formal access to electricity, so residents are illegally connected to either an electricity distribution box or the supply to nearby formal houses. There is also no refuse collection.
"Nothing has changed (since the Cape Argus visited last July)," said Poni as he pointed to a dumpsite, also used as a playground by the community's children.
He claims that this dumpsite and all the others in the area have never been attended to by the city council since Cape Town mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo's promises to improve service delivery.
Rose Vuma, 60, a resident for more than 20 years, said they were still "in the dark" about when their living conditions would improve.
"Nobody has told us anything about why they are not giving us these services, even though we have been complaining for a long time. We are in the dark," she said.
"The only time they come here is when they are canvassing for votes and after that they disappear. We are tired of these empty promises. We are wiser now and we won't vote (on March 1)."
Cemellon Stoni, 36, agreed with Vuma's intention to boycott the upcoming local elections. Stoni is a traditional healer who has been living in QQ section for 15 years and said the lack of toilets was affecting his practice. Sick people often had to relieve themselves behind his home. "We don't have anything from government," he said. "We are like baboons to them, not people. Even baboons are better off because they have people who look after them."
The frustrated residents eventually want to be moved to formal housing because in summer, their shacks are razed by fires while in winter they "swim" in water.
But for now they are demanding that the city roll out basic services as a temporary measure while serviced land is prepared for their formal housing.
Approached for comment, Mthuthuzeli Swartz, the head of the city's "crack team" which focuses on accelerated service delivery, said the residents had refused to have basic services installed in the settlement because they believed it would make them stay there permanently.
He said the city was currently busy servicing land in Bardale, near Mfuleni, with bulk infrastructure, and this would accommodate about 500 families in four months.
However, he also pointed out that this land would also accommodate Cape Flats backyard dwellers who have been promised houses.
"It is really saddening that we are threatened with a march when we have all these plans and the impression is created that we are not engaging with the people," said Swartz.