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Hefty reaction to new ward demarcation

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Emotions ran high on Wednesday as Limpopo residents from far-flung villages in the Polokwane municipal area left work and responsibilities to attend a meeting arranged by the Municipal Demarcation Board, Capricorn District Municipality, Polokwane and Aganang municipalities.
Lizzy Mazibuko, representative of the Municipal Demarcation Board informed the attendees in a capacity packed Jack Botes Hall how the recently completed demarcation process would affect them in terms of municipal wards.
Polokwane Municipality now comprises 45 wards, seven more, due to the fact that two thirds of Aganang Local Municipality is to be incorporated into it.
Attendees were told that they would have ten days in which to object to the new ward limits. The Demarcation Board then perused the objections submitted in accordance to the rules of the board, and then it would be published in the Government Gazette. The process was to be completed by the end of October, the attendees heard.
Traditional leaders had a chance to voice their concerns and the ten-day period was objected to strongly as they did not even know where the new wards were to be and requested for maps to be made available maps to see where changes have taken place.
It was explained that the new wards were demarcated according to the total of registered voters on the voters’ lists of 2014. There are certain norms as to which wards are formed, and one is the number of voters. Polokwane’s new wards should have, according to the norm, 5 753 registered voters, with a maximum of 7 783 voters.
Several objections were raised during a question and answer session. One attendee told Polokwane Observer that he has to go to a voting station eighteen kilometres from where he lives, with the new demarcation. Another woman complained that she would have to walk five kilometres to her voting station. The borders, according to opposition parties, did also not make sense, and examples were quoted of wards to which a small portion was added to, across a busy highway, but another taken away and added to an adjoining ward. People said they were not consulted and their expectations were not met during the meeting. The claimed a formal decision has been take already about the new wards and the meeting was just a formality.
Mazibuko told Polokwane Observer after the meeting that the consultation process by municipalities with residents should have started by the end of last year already, as the documentation was ready by then.

Story: NELIE ERASMUS
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Photo: Lizzy Mazibuko, a Municipal Demarcation Board representative. She faced a highly emotional crowd when presenting the road forward for Polokwane’s new wards when people had not yet been informed where the new wards’ borders would be.