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AfriForum frustrated by ELM ‘no-show’


Civil rights group AfriForum is furious at being left ‘high and dry’ by the Emakhazeni Local Municipality (ELM) on the eve of a confirmed and much anticipated public debate – scheduled to have taken place on 20 March at the Machadodorp municipal offices. The debate had been organised and planned by AfriForum in conjunction with ELM to publicly address a number of serious issues arising not only in Machadodorp but in other areas as well.


Mr. Delon Duvenage, Chairperson of the Machadodorp branch of AfriForum, confirmed ELM’s withdrawal in a telephonic interview with THG, stating that this was a “well known delay tactic, is unprofessional and proof that municipal officials do not care about real issues and concerns of residents.” He went on to add “After phoning me yesterday, to confirm today’s meeting, ELM phoned me this morning to say that the Mayor won’t make it as he has to attend a memorial service.” In a subsequent media statement released by AfriForum’s Mpumalanga Organiser, Mr. Ruan Lottering, it has further been disclosed that the debate had finally been scheduled in spite of numerous failed attempts in the past – with the organisation even going so far as to offer free choice to ELM with regard to their preferred time, date and venue. Despite this, the debate was cancelled at the last minute because “the Mayor has another engagement.”


The statement goes on to comment: “It is strange indeed that the municipal officials determine the date and time of the meeting and then remember at the eleventh hour that they have to be somewhere else,” said Lottering. “It seems suspect, as if they are trying to dodge accountability,” he concluded. Due to the fact that AfriForum have incurred considerable expense to date in arranging the now cancelled debate – including engaging the services of a municipal consultant to discuss processes with municipal officials and inviting attendees from as far afield as Dullstroom and Belfast, etc. – the organisation has confirmed that they will definitely be “sending the bill” for same to ELM in an effort to recoup costs.


AfriForum have indicated that, despite this latest setback, the organisation remains firmly committed to upholding the rights of average South African citizens and will continue to make all efforts to re-schedule the debate with a view to, ultimately, constructively engaging with ELM to resolve numerous important issues. Responding to a request for comment from THG, Mr. Zakhele Ntimane, Manager in the ELM Mayor’s office said: “It should be understood that the regrettable cancellation of the scheduled meeting should not be seen as a cancellation as such, but rather as a postponement due to unforeseen circumstances.” He re-iterated that ELM “remains committed to engaging with AfriForum in fruitful discussions to resolve challenges faced.” He further added that ELM would make “all efforts” to re-schedule the planned debate “at the earliest possible opportunity.”

 

 

***Shortly before going to print, THG was advised that a new time & date of 17h30, 10 April – at the same venue – has been agreed upon by both AfriForum & ELM***  

 

 

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