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Boksburg Residents Rally for Service Delivery, Threaten Rates Boycott

Published April 02, 2024
2 months ago

In an emphatic demonstration of citizen unrest, over a thousand Boksburg residents amassed at El Ridge Corner to vent their exasperation over continuous power outages and the deterioration of municipal services. This gathering was not merely a collective outcry but a stern warning to the powers that be: the community is prepared to boycott rates and taxes if their grievances remain unaddressed.

The electricity supply issues have immobilized both residents and businesses, some experiencing up to 10 days in darkness with unsatisfactory communication from the municipality regarding restoration timelines. The frustration is palpable, as citizens articulate their disenchantment with the downward spiral of their hometown, a place many have known since childhood.

It's not just about being left in the dark; it's a matter of fairness and equity. Residents point out instances where electricity theft seems to go unchecked, exacerbating feelings of neglect and inequality.

The manifestation of this anger was robustly directed at local public officials, including Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesperson on energy and water, Simon Lapping, and the leaders from the ActionSA party. The crowd's ire reflects a broader expectation of action over platitudes, with an understanding that while councillors themselves might be constrained, the community's patience has run thin.

ActionSA’s representative Michael Basch conveyed a sense of urgency, underscoring the frequency and spread of power outages in the region, including recent prolonged blackouts in Alberton and Kempton Park – the latter complicated further by allegations of subpar repair work.

Amidst the resonating discontent, Herman Mashaba of ActionSA emphasized the inherent political nature of these service delivery failures, asserting that only through political recourse can the system be purified.

The community's resolve crystalized into a multi-pronged plan which includes leveraging local WhatsApp groups for grassroots solution-sharing and presenting these to the appropriate officials. However, the notion of withholding rates payments was especially contentious; while Lapping pointed out the legality of refusing payment for undelivered services, the notion still treads in gray legal areas.

The collective sentiment for regular community meetings signified a call to unity beyond Boksburg, to stand against governmental inadequacy that has impact throughout South Africa.

Despite political tensions, including criticism within DA ranks for the supposed commandeering of the event by ActionSA, the two coalition partners managed to collectively face the disgruntled residents.

The notable absence of city officials at the gathering was pointed, leaving the leadership of ActionSA assuring the community that discussions with top municipal energy department officials were imminent, alluding to the urgent need for answers and action.

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