The Sterkspruit community’s apparent “unilateral declaration of independence” is a matter of grave concern. This country simply cannot accept such unilateral parochialism especially if its actual genesis is poor governance.

The protests in Sterkspruit are not a demarcation issue. They are an issue of poor service delivery, with demarcation being used as a catalyst.

We can neither ignore nor accept the fact that most small “platteland” municipalities are dysfunctional and simply cannot provide any semblance of adequate service delivery.

This dysfunctionality prevails for a host of reasons, namely:

  • Inadequate revenue due to poverty and inept revenue collection;
  • Incompetence due to the ANC policy of cadre deployment resulting in failed administration, corruption and appointment of unqualified officials of which there are many examples;
  • Lack of accountability and responsibility by responsible officials.

This province cannot tolerate the ANC turning a blind eye to the plight of the people of Sterkspruit and their very genuine complaints and needs. Two weeks ago the ANC chose to navel-gaze and to play politicking at Bizana (Taking the Legislature to the People) while the Sterkspruit issue remained unresolved.

Rome burns while Nero fiddles. Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi’s interventions have borne no fruit to date. Despite questions in parliament by the DA about the death of Grade 6 pupil Nkosiyethu Wele Mgoqi at the hands of police during a protest earlier this year, the family still wait in vain to hear what happened to their son and to those responsible for his death.

Helen Zille was invited to Sterkspruit in April this year where she told the residents: “Your government has forgotten you. Your government is ignoring you”.

This rings true for many communities in the Eastern Cape who are the victims of failing local government and a provincial- and national government that simply is not helping to improve their hopeless lot. All the time the faceless poor wallow in the despair of poverty and broken promises.

I will petition our parliamentary representatives to put pressure on the President and the ANC government to bring an end to this volatile impasse by actually dealing with the legitimate concerns of this forgotten community.

It is anathema that the MEC for Local Government, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, appears to be even more distant from the Sterkspruit issue than Minster Baloyi, incomprehensible as this is.

The people who suffer the brunt of inept local-, provincial and national government have an opportunity to fix this in the only effective way, by voting for change of government in 2014.

Athol Trollip

DA Leader in the Provincial Legislature