I write as a person who has arrogated to himself the right to bring into sharp focus the status quo in King Williams Town with the well thought-through reason of making a clarion call to all those who have an iota of conscience to raise their hands and join the voices of reason in condemning the rampant decaying of this once beautiful of e’Qonce.
My purpose for this piece is to initiate a conversation around developing a repertoire of responses to this problem, drawing inspiration and motivation from our proud history and heritage as this community of e’Qonce. One of the things that residents living in King become aware of is the growing trend of what I would term a ”Town overflowing with rubbish”. The decay in King is obvious in every corner with rubbish overflowing with uncollected litter. Dismaying scenes of streets overflowing with trash (Visitors) are hard to ignore. The town streets are overflowing with litter despite having paid municipal cleaners.
Mayor Pakati, on his 2016 inaugural address as Mayor of Buffalo City Metro, he promised that he’ll revolutionise service delivery. Since 2016 and 3 years later, we’ve witnessed the degeneration of the inner city into a lawless slum which has become a big factor which poses a health hazard for the residents of King Williams Town. Mr. Mayor, let it be known to all of you Cllrs and officials that BCM belongs to none of you and for that, we the residents of King Williams Town, the dejected and the mostly dislodged, who live in abject poverty stricken conditions and who remain displaced can no longer fold our arms while we’re subjected to live in deteriorating conditions by the city. The BCM is confronted by numerous challenges from failing in implementing its constitutional developmental mandate conferred on it by the Constitution of the Republic, and some are clustered around four main concerns, they include high unemployment, inadequate access to quality and efficient service delivery, high levels of corruption and poor infrastructure, cronyism and inequality, but among those clustered main concerns is a filthy city, with having garbage on the roads including the CBD of King Williams Town and other parts of the City. The distraught hawkers are also subjected to run their businesses in places that have been piling up with litter for many years without being cleaned when your municipality has employed people who earn salaries for not doing their jobs. Hawkers are forced to work in places that look like a pigsty. These are the people who are selling food, fruit and vegetables to make an income to support our families in filthy spaces because you have failed to prioritise health and environmental safety measures.
I’Qonce has now become a den of cows where they cause traffic and destruction by wandering around town against the municipal bylaws. People of King Williams Town, including Bisho, the capital of this province deserve to live, work and play in a clean and habitable City. In a Town like ours where we need as many jobs as possible, we need an environment where businesses do not have to operate in dirt. Your city must create the conditions for businesses and people to interact symbiotically. One of the features that BCM is famous for is the apparent filthiness of its towns, King / Bisho Town. Mayor, a clean and habitable city result in economic benefits which are an increased standard of living for the citizens, consumer and business confidence and a place in which businesses can thrive and create much-needed jobs which your city has failed to do as mandated.
In King and Bisho people are yet to imagine walking on a pavement in town with the peace of mind that comes from knowing they won’t step on to someone else’s fertiliser and that the air they’d breathe wouldn’t contain the stench of rotting garbage?
However, there is a need to critically examine our municipality today. We must ask ourselves whether the municipal officials still regard us as residents of this city, and ratepayers to or not as we have noticed a lack of improvements while politicians and officials appeared to be living in luxury. As a result, infrastructure related issues such as inadequate access to affordable electricity, water, housing and reliable public transport, went unaddressed. The result of ineffective administration of BCM is that the wealthy are increasingly privatising the things that the government should have been doing in the first place . The problems of King Williams Town are fixable however it will take a mind-set change away from the deeply ingrained culture of patronage in the ANC. Without that, BCM will continue down the path of increasing inequality and minimal, if any, change in the decaying of King Williams Town.
Since the ANC’s ascent to power, it has contributed to the social decay of these towns such as King, Bisho (Capital of Eastern Cape) and Berlin. E’Qonce Garbage is piling up on the streets and it has been months since the Buffalo City municipality last cleaned the town properly. While Vendors, taxis, Businesses and commuters have to be subjected to such filthiness, uncollected rubbish bags befoul the streets in the CBD, The distinct smell of urine and rubbish lingers in the air in the hub of commercial and retail activity.
It is against this backdrop that I call on the hawkers, Students, Businesses, Taxi Associations and Qonce ratepayers who are key stakeholders to join myself and others in our efforts to keep the I’Qonce clean, by joining the clean-up operation in larger numbers to ensure our town is clean. In time, we must bestow on e’Qonce the greatest gift- a more clean town to live, work and play.
Nhlanhla Mosele is a Young African Leadership Initiative Fellow.