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Manenberg finally gets green(ing) light

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Manenberg finally gets green(ing) light

by Esther Lewis
09 Apr 2008
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

ARRESTS, protests and resolution marked last week for Proudly Manenberg.

Proudly Manenberg, a non-governmental organisation, has been working tirelessly to improve the image of the Manenberg area. Greening projects have played a role in giving the suburb a face-lift. In September, 2007, Marius Fransman, MEC for Transport and Public Works, announced that the department would employ 111 people from the community to start cleaning and greening Manenberg.

By last week, payment and tools had not yet been received. There were also no signed agreements in place between the NGO and local government.

On Wednesday, 2 April, Proudly Manenberg met with local government officials, and made three demands: payment for the 111 greening staff, a signed agreement and a date for a meeting with Premier Ebrahim Rasool. Proudly Manenberg told the officials they intended to stage a sit-in until the demands were met. Manenberg police arrested Mario Wanza, the NGO's chairperson, as a result.

The community marched in protest to the Manenberg Police Station, where Wanza was released without any charges being brought against him.

On Thursday, two cars and bus-loads full of the greening team and Proudly Manenberg officials drove to Caledon Spa, where provincial cabinet was in a meeting.

The group were told they would only be met at the police station. "We refused, since we object to government criminalising our people," Wanza said.

Police prevented them from entering the premises, but some members of the group managed to slip into the parking lot.

After spending two hours in the parking area, they met with Fransman in a hotel room, said the organisation's assistant secretary, Emily Fairbairn.

"The meeting was quite fruitful. An agreement was reached on the way forward," Fairbairn said.

Eric Ntabazalila, Fransman's spokesperson, said the payment issue was resolved. The department transferred an undisclosed amount of cash into the organisation's account, and the greening staff were paid on Friday.

The Ministry of Transport will meet with Proudly Manenberg on Wednesday to arrange for the second demand to be met.

An agreement will be drawn up and signed by all parties involved. "Because of all these things that have been taking place, the ministry wants to ensure the people know we are still committed to their upliftment. They will not be disadvantaged by any of this," Ntabazalila said. The only unresolved issue the NGO has is the meeting with Rasool.

Wanza said, "We are still waiting for the Premier to set a date for a meeting with Proudly Manenberg, so that our concerns around poor service delivery and the criminalisation of our community can be discussed".

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