PROTEST OVER BAD ROADS, SEWAGE
COPE says it will call for a rent boycott in the Free State's Moqhaka municipality "any time from today" if municipal bosses do not mend the potholes on roads and put a stop to raw sewerage flowing on to the streets.
Cope also plans to occupy the mayor's office, claiming support from local taxi and ratepayers associations.
Cope member of Parliament Dennis Bloem told Sowetan: "The state of our roads are so bad that you cannot call them tarred roads anymore. There is nothing left of a once well-maintained infrastructure."
He said residents of Moqhaka had spent December protesting about allegedly stinking tap water and raw sewage flowing on to the streets.
"The water smells bad and when you drink it, you find things floating in it," Bloem said.
"Even township residents used to buy bottled water but now they can no longer afford it."
He said raw sewage flowed freely on to the towns' streets, "from the central business district to the township of Maokeng".
But Moqhaka municipality spokesperson Khojane Madiba said: "Dennis Bloem is only concerned with scoring political points now that we are about to get into local government elections."
Madiba said municipal managers would be meeting today to come up with a master plan to repair the roads.
"We know the challenges we are faced with and we cannot run away from them," Madiba said.
"We acknowledge the bad state of our roads . we are going to have a master plan to fix strategic roads that affect a lot of people."
But a day after Madiba made this promise angry residents called Sowetan, saying the municipality had filled in the potholes with gravel instead of fixing them properly.
Moqhaka Ratepayers Association's Gerrit van Schalkwyk confirmed that the sewerage plant seemed to have broken down.
He told Sowetan: "There is no maintenance. The roads are full of potholes and there is insufficient water for everyone here.
"But they want to buy a new Mercedes-Benz for the mayor Mantebu Mokgosi."
Madiba would neither confirm nor deny a possible plan to purchase a new vehicle for the mayor.
Van Schalkwyk said his association's members were prepared to join the protests as long as they were not held under the banner of any political party.
The Moqhaka municipality, which includes the former Kroonstad and Viljoenskroon, is governed by the ANC, which has 21 councillors to the DA's four.