UPM meets Makana in court tomorrow

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The Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) has decided against a march in Makhanda on Thursday 12 September in support of the dissolution of the Makana Council. However, UPM members alongside other residents are expected to stage a peaceful picket outside the High Court in Grahamstown ahead of tomorrow’s hearing.

Lawyers for the UPM in February 2019 filed papers in the High Court in Makhanda calling for the dissolution of the Council and the appointment of an administrator in terms of Section 139(1)(c). The case is set down in the High Court for Thursday 12 September.

The UPM has taken Makana Municipality to court for allegedly breaching its obligation to ensure the provision of services to the Makana community in a sustainable manner, promoting a safe and healthy environment, and managing its administration, budgeting and planning processes to serve the Makana community’s basic needs and promote social and economic development. The court documents cite sections 152 and 153 of the Constitution in this regard.

In a media statement this week, the UPM said, “The people of the Makana Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape are tired of the poor service delivery and rampant corruption in the management of the municipality. The Grahamstown High Court will hear the dissolution of the Makana Council on Thursday, 12 September.”

The UPM said its decision to take Makana to court was supported by Makana residents, as well as the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN).

The 15 respondents listed alongside Makana’s Mayor and Municipal Manager and Council in the UPM’s application include the Eastern Cape Premier and his executive, the MEC and Minister for Co-operative Governance, the South African Municipal Workers Union and South Africa’s President.

“The failures of the Makana Municipality include rampant corruption – the Kabuso report  exposes the extent of corruption; a water crisis, residents go without water for days due to corrupt management of water and lack of mechanisms in place to deal with the effects of climate change; a poor sewerage system, many residents live in the sewers, the infrastructure of the sewers has dilapidated; poor road facilities, roads are riddled with potholes that are never filled,” the UPM said in their statement.

“Corruption erodes the capacity of the state to deliver on its constitutional mandate. Corruption has collapsed our municipality and forced people to drink water from the sewer. Corruption undermines human rights and is a threat to democracy. The will of the people will always be undermined by greedy and corrupt politicians,” UPM leader, Ayanda Kota, said.

“Access to basic services is a human right. No human being should be subjected to such poor living conditions. We support the call for better governance for the Makana Municipality,” Charles Clint Chimedza, Protection Officer at the SAHRDN, added.

The coalition of residents and civil society organisations backing the court action have opted against a march that had been planned. Instead, protesters are set to hold a stationary picket outside the High Court ahead of the 9am start.

“We’ve decided against a march,” Kota told Grocott’s Mail today. “Picketers will instead be dropped off outside the High Court.”

Kota said this was because with the xenophobic looting and violence taking place around the country, the climate was volatile. “We cannot take that chance,” Kota said. He said they would be discussing with the police their plans for tomorrow, to ensure safety for all our town’s residents.

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