#Dorplitiek: Strong community keeps Eastern Free State standing

Henry

In the Mafube municipality in the Eastern Free State, things are going crazy. The ANC government seems to have run towns like Villiers, Tweeling and Frankfort down to the ground and there are concerns about illegal dumping, pollution of water sources and a shortage of power.

Therefore, residents have now stepped in themselves to save what can be saved and to function independently of the state.

The Mafube municipality was placed under administration in June 2022, but little progress with service delivery appears to have been made. RNews visited Frankfort in the run-up to the national election in May this year.

Here, residents will be quick to tell you how they feel about government both locally and nationally.

Words like “useless” and “incompetent” are often heard when talking about the Mafube municipality.

Free State, town, Frankfort, service delivery, town ethics, landfill

In April 2022, Mafube’s business forum, together with AfriForum, obtained an order from the court that would force the Free State prime minister to place this municipality under administration and urgently introduce a financial recovery plan. There was also an urgent need to intervene in the sewage infrastructure to stop pollution of the Vaal and Wilge rivers. Although the municipality was placed under administration a few months later, few of the other measures came about.

Hans Pretorius, chairman of Mafube First, a community organization that is registered to participate in local elections, says the municipality is bankrupt and has not sent any bills to its residents for years. “How can they expect their financial affairs to be right?” he wants to know.

During RNews’s visit, signs of this mismanagement were visible everywhere.

Free State, town, Frankfort, service delivery, town ethics, landfill

Bins in the town’s business center overflowed and motorists and pedestrians jostled for space on the pavement. Potholes were everywhere, even in the quieter streets in residential areas.

A big eyesore is the heaps and heaps of rubbish that is illegally dumped behind the local golf club.

According to Erika Lessing, chairman of Mafube Tourism, residents have already approached AfriForum to intervene. Lambert de Klerk, AfriForum’s manager of environmental affairs, confirmed that there is concern that this landfill is polluting the Wilge River, which runs through Frankfort.

“We are collecting all the necessary information so that the Green Scorpions can be approached. Because even if it is an informal landfill, the local municipality still has a responsibility to maintain it,” says De Klerk.

Strive for independence

Residents know they can no longer rely on the government to bring about change.

“If you want to see a difference in your community, then you have to do it yourself,” says Pretorius.

He is one of the shareholders of a solar farm near Frankfort that supplies this town with power, in an attempt to curb the effects of load shedding and other power outages.

Thanks to this project by Rural Free State, Villiers, Tweeling and Frankfort will soon no longer be affected by load shedding. Heidi du Plooy, longtime resident and owner of Von Krotz Kennels in Frankfort, says if it wasn’t for solar power, Frankfort might not exist today.

RFS also has plans to start an agri-town and expand the solar farms in such a way that it will attract new investment and development to the region. “Our plan is to build a hydroponic farm that can supply food to the town. We ultimately want to function completely independently of the state.”

Pretorius says the town is in a privileged position because the region has a lot of water.