Letter by Carin Visser, Sannieshof is tackling service crises in this way

1 July 2008

Carin Visser
Chairperson: Sannieshof business chamber
Sannieshof residents’ and ratepayers’ association

I am writing in reaction to the article “Withholding of tax like stone throwing” (Sake24, 26.06.08). The withholding of municipal service fees and property rates ought to be a serious cause for concern for the authorities by now, such that more than just silence ought to coming from them. For several months now, there has been chronic unrest, which has even led to violence, in townships, but the solution to the problems is shrouded in silence.

Prof Marinus Wiechers certainly has a right to utter a theoretical view, but is clearly not familiar with the problems in practice. The “remedies” that he mentions have been exhausted. Verbalisation of problems is swept off the table and is in most cases minuted and, thereafter, the minutes no longer exist. Petitions are not worth the paper and effort required.

Protests keep many people away from work, cause aggression and violence and have never achieved any success. To wait for the right to vote as the solution of the current problem is a fairy tale. The fraud and corruption related to tenders for repairs and so on will place an even greater burden on the already overloaded courts. And why should it in any case be necessary for residents to incur the cost of taking a municipality to court for it to do its work?

How is it possible that even the highest authority in the province has been informed about corruption and fraud, but that no action is taken?

If an individual does not pay his VAT, a fine and, thereafter, a warrant are summarily issued. The Tswaing municipality is withholding R6 million from the revenue service, and nothing is done about this.

If Prof Dirk Kotzé is of the opinion that our actions can be classified within the framework of stone throwing and arson, he is also not aware of the actual actions that a dispute entail. Stone throwing and arson are associated with aggression and the breaking down of specific structures. Dispute action, in contrast, is a positive involvement by each taxpayer that demands his constitutional right to build up and repair the infrastructure and quality of life of all people to the accepted and economically achievable quality at his disposal.

Whereas stone throwing and arson expose hundreds of people to unnecessary aggression, a dispute action is aimed at verbal and written negotiations and ultimatums, which are exchanged between the management of two bodies. The community can continue to function without disturbance and unrest. A dispute manifests itself only once all channels of negotiation have been exhausted.

The success of a dispute action in a town is not limited to one racial group or residential area. All residents of that area enjoy the benefits of success. The biggest problem for any municipal management is political involvement becoming more important than the actual function of the municipality. There is a view that a job at the municipality will enable you immediately to lead financially prosperous life, regardless of qualifications.

In Sannieshof, we are actively involved in rebuilding our town in a positive manner, without us feeling that we are transgressing any law. We are not defaulters; we are just paying our accounts into a fund account and we are repairing only that which is essential for the functioning of our town.

We believe that if any of the learned professors lived in Sannieshof and had to walk though running raw sewerage to buy bread, even they would have decided to become part of the action in Sannieshof. The difference between them and us is that they are searching for solutions in books, whereas we are practically tackling the problem facing us and are working hard to find the best solution for our problems – and it’s working.