Council is not the only cold place these days for mayor Patricia de Lille, whose own DA caucus wants her gone – she also got a frosty reception at a Dunoon open day about a multi-million rand housing project for the area.
The event, at the Dunoon community hall on Thursday June 14, was run to inform residents about the plan to extend Dunoon onto the Annandale farm (“Multi-million rand upgrades due for Dunoon,” Tabletalk, May 23), but during the mayor’s hour-long visit from 1.30pm to 2.30pm there were only 20-odd people at the venue and most of them were City officials.
The mayor’s visit came less than a week after angry protests in the township, sparked just hours after law enforcement tore down illegally erected shacks along the N7 on Sunday June 10.
The community hall and councillor’s office were torched and a new library — still being built — was damaged during the riots (“Hall torched, new building damaged in Dunoon riots,” Tabletalk June 13).
The land invasion along the N7 had followed a visit by Ms De Lille, on Saturday May 26, in which she had outlined plans for the housing development.
The Cape Argus reported that Ward 104 councillor, Lubabalo Makeleni, blamed the mayor for misleading Dunoon residents by “coming to this ward and gathered individuals to feed them with information such as they must go to any piece of land and build shacks for themselves”.
But Ms De Lille refuted those allegations, calling them “lies”, in a letter the Cape Argus published on Tuesday June 12.
“In fact I tell every community I engage with the complete opposite,” she writes in the letter. The mayor’s spokeswoman Zara Nicholson also cited a report in the Weekend Argus on May 27, which quotes the mayor appealing to people not to invade land.
“Help us by not invading the land because we need to put in the necessary infrastructure,” she says in the article.
But Mr Makeleni isn’t budging and says he stands by what he said about the mayor.
Community leader Christopher Matomela said attendance was very poor at the open day because residents still harboured resentment towards the mayor.
“The people knew she was coming but chose to stay away because of what happened the last time she was here.
“Just to be clear, Dunoon residents are all for the new developments, as they will bring employment and housing to the people here. But what they don’t want, is to see the mayor,” said Mr Matomela.
Ms Nicholson said it was unfortunate that residents had taken that stance given that the open days were arranged so the mayor could engage directly with the residents on the projects coming to the area for their benefit.
“The City opened this channel of communication to ensure that people are properly informed of projects, for them to ask questions, address their concerns and get clarity. The mayor is always open to engaging with residents in the interests of bringing progress to communities, and we appeal to residents to make use of these opportunities to communicate with the mayor and not to shy away from them,” she said.
However, Dunoon resident Yanga Nkohla said he believed awkward timing and bad weather had more to do with the poor attendance at the open day than any resentment people felt towards Ms De Lille.
“People said that it was short timing and they had to work during the times that the mayor was there. Others said the weather was bad and that’s why they didn’t pitch up.”
Mr Nkohla said certain parties and people were trying make this a political issue and were the real ones misleading the people of Dunoon.