It is unfortunate that Ba Ga-Mothibi Tribal Authority communities – one of them Seoding, where I originate from – have yet to have their demarcation request to Northern Cape from North West realised. And it doesn’t look like this will be realised until after 2016. But can we wait that long?
Their demarcation has been clouded by the African National Congress conference in Mangaung last year, among others. The congress was followed by other events, including the Tlokwe Municipality saga. It is therefore not surprising that the request has since been gaining dust while sitting on someone’s table somewhere. With the general elections looming large for next year, the Ba Ga-Mothibi demarcation is likely to be back on the spotlight, with communities expected not to give their vote to the ANC which – it appears – has since abandoned them and listening to their needs only when they need their votes to rule until Jesus Christ comes.
In a meeting attended by some ANC heavyweights, including Supra Mahumapelo, Joel Moseki from the Ba Ga-Mothibi expressed a general concern that: “Since the dawn of democracy and recent local government elections, we have requested to be moved to the Northern Cape because it is difficult for us to access services here”. As a resident from Seoding, I confirm and support Moseki’s statement that: “We cannot access medical assistance because the nearest hospital is in Pampierstad, which is in the Northern Cape, and because we belong in the North West, we are sent to Taung Hospital, which is even further than Pampierstad.” At the time Mahumapelo reportedly claimed concerns would be taken up with relevant departments to resolve our many grievances. To date, we a yet to hear of any progress report.
In a paper titled Voice, political mobilisation and repression under Jacob Zuma, Jane Duncane noted a concern raised by SACP member Masego Khumalo – a concern shared by all communities under that tribal authority, that’s if the said task team established at the time led by the late and former and Minister for Provincial and Local Government, Sicelo Shiceka had done its work – that the area had long fell under the Northern Cape province. This was even long before our incorporation into the former Bophutatswana homeland.
It is true that historically there has always been a connection between what our grandparents have always told us when we were growing up on how and where they lived. You do not even need a task team to establish that, as is now seen fit by our government. This because to get to the province we are said to be belong under – one has to travel more than 300km to get to Mafikeng, North West’s capital city where all government departments are based (except Taung Municipality where only a few offices are accessible). Additionally, for Ba Ga-Mothibi communities to access any North West provincial services, they have to drive from their area, past Pampierstad (a nearby township) to Hartswater (their EVER AND ONLY mini-city) through to Taung (which is further up Hartswater). On the lack of health services – one of the communities’ grievances – MEC for Health in the North West province at time, Dr Magome Masike said in her budget speech for 2011/12 that the tribal authority will receive a Community Health Centre (CHC) to the value of R35 million as a response to the community’s health need. Two years after the speech was made, April 2011, the centre is yet to be completed as the construction only began med-2013.
According to a Local Government Turn-Around Strategy Guidelines Phase 3 in April 2010, both North West and Northern Cape had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding the Ba Ga-Mothibi and it is unclear what the agreement entailed. Contacted for comment on Thursday last week, ANC North West spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said he would ask someone with information on this to contact Akanyang Africa but this is yet to be done to date. I therefore update this as soon as Akanyang Africa receives a response. But I suspect the MOU included the Community Health Centre currently under construction near Ba Ga-Mothibi Tribal Authority office in Sekhing village. Should the request to be demarcated to Northern Cape not be addressed urgently by the ruling party – it is likely Ba Ga-Mothibi tribal authority will be engulfed by the violence that had been experienced in 2009 in the Moutse area in the Limpopo province over the seemingly forced demarcation to another province against their will (just as it happened in Khutsong near Gauteng, Matatiele in Easter Cape, etc).
In his CoGTA Business Plan for 2010-2011, Shiceka said a report on the Ba Ga-Mothibi and Balfour boundary consultations would be submitted to the cabinet by July that year. The former minister said this would include a report also on the Moutse and Matatiele consultations. This was further confirmed in a Cabinet meeting in April 2009. It agreed at the time that these needed further consultation with the affected communities before government could make a final decision. This was to ensure that a measure of consensus is reached in the affected areas to prevent further divisions in the communities. Cabinet said the issue “will be finalised by the next administration and the new Parliament at the end of the consultation process” and that “change in provincial boundaries will require changes to the constitution.” But despite repeated requests for comment, CoGTA is yet to respond to Akanyang Africa’s questions sent over a week ago.
SACP member Masego Khumalo reportedly said Ba Ga-Mothibi communities have always followed procedures, that they had “never” been involved in any violent protests. She said police are called in when some community members start violent acts but that because the ruling party does not heed their calls for demarcation (emphasis): “in future we won’t stop people from going this route” because “government will listen only when tyres and Councillor’s houses are burnt”.
I concur with Khumalo’s sentiments because we have always been fooled (when following procedures) into believing that our government listens. But as seen with the Khutsong and Moutse areas where there was violent protests – clearly the “civilised route has not worked” because “[government] only listen when we burn tyres”. At the time, Khumalo said Ba Ga-Mothibi would “not participate in the census and we won’t participate in local government elections. We will make the area ungovernable’”. This is very likely to happen during next year elections. And you might recall that there was never violence in the area during previous elections. This because the community later voted for the ANC in the 2009 National Elections to help it stave off the electoral threat posed by the then-newly formed Congress of the People (Cope), according to Duncane. But four years later, we are still to be demarcated to Northern Cape. “Now we couldn’t care less. We will only vote if our people are in the Northern Cape’”, Khumalo reportedly said. With cabinet sitting on this reporting and undecided, it is unclear at this stage what is likely to happen during next year general elections.
Asked whether Ba Ga-Mothibi’s application to be moved from Greater Taung Local Municipality, which is also far from them, Taung, to Phokwane Local Municipality, the closest, which falls under Northern Cape, Demarcation Board’s Jabu Mthembu said applications for municipal boarder will only be considered after 2016. Its CEO, Gumbi-Masilela, told Akanyang Africa by email on 20 Oct that the organisation “only deals with municipal boundaries only”.
Gumbi-Masilela said any matter relating to provincial boundaries should be directed to the department of COGTA which, despite repeated attempts, had failed to response to Akanyang Africa’s questions sent over a week ago (but as soon as a response is received, this article will be updated). This therefore means should the provincial demarcation request be rejected by cabinet, a new municipal application by Ba Ga-Mothibi tribal authority will only be considered after three years.
I ask again: Can we, Ba Ga-Mothibi Tribal Authority, wait that long?