Battle lines are drawn in Khayelitsha

Ryder Mthwalo Mkutswana is unhappy about the nominations.

Outgoing Ward 97 councillor and Ward 94 hopeful Mthwalo Ryder Mkutswana believes he did a lot of good work during his 10-year tenure as Ward 97 councillor.

However, he has now been thrown into the political wilderness after Town Two, his stronghold, was included in Ward 94 in terms of the new ward demarcations.

Ward 94 has been Patrick Mngxunyeni’s turf for the last 10 years, and the changes have led to some political wrangling ahead of this year’s municipal election, which takes place on Wednesday August 3. The move to put Town Two under Ward 94 saw the two men, going toe to toe for the position of councillor. However, Mr Mkutswa na said he is not sure how Mr Mngxunyeni beat him to be named the ANC’s councillor candidate for Ward 94.

The outspoken leader said he was dismayed to discover that Mr Mngxunyeni would contest the ward against the DA’s Shirley Aba and the EFF’s Mandla Ndabaza ndile, on behalf of the ANC.

Mr Mkutswana accused the provincial party leadership of not following the processes of the ANC when they chose Mr Mngxunyeni as the ward candidate.

In an interview with Vukani at his office, in Town Two, Khayelitsha, on Friday July 15, Mr Mkutswana said his community still wanted him to serve another term. But there had been some difficulties in convening the meetings to choose the ANC ward candidate. As a result, he said, Ward 94 was the only ward that did not have a candidate when the party’s provincial leadership compiled its list of candidates. “We do not know how (Mr Mngxunyeni) was put there,” he said. “The reality is you cannot impose someone on people.”

Mr Mkutswana said the party had promised to deal with the matter after the elections, with one of the possible solutions being for the incumbent to resign if he were voted into office.

But this would depend on how the community felt after the August 3 election. He said the party could lose a lot of support in the elections for “making irrational decisions”.

“The DA has never before, had posters in this ward. That is my biggest concern. The ANC is committing suicide,” said Mr Mkutswana. This, he said, happened in several wards, with the party promising to sort issues out after the elections. “This is certainly not the end of the road,” said Mr Mkutswana, thanking the party and those who supported him during his tenure.

With one of his close allies, Loyiso Nkohla having jumped into bed with the DA, Mr Mkutswana said he has also been the subject of speculation, with some linking him with the ruling party in the province.

“I depend on people in everything that I do politically. I don’t make my own decisions. The ANC is my culture, even where I come from,” he said. “I can be out for now, but I might be back after the elections after all the correct ANC processes have been followed.”

Talking about being a councillor, its challenges and what lay ahead for the new councillor, Mr Mkutswana said a lot has improved in the ward since he took over. However, some serious challenges remained, among them the failure by the People’s Housing Process (PHP) project to deliver houses. He said several PHP projects were blocked by the Department of Human Settlements, halting development in the ward.

Mr Mkutswana said people were asked to temporarily move to shacks to free their plots, but no construction took place.

“As a result, most of the people remained in the shacks because of corruption,” he said, adding they were in the process of addressing the problem. Funding, however, remained another critical element, he said. “This year alone we have unblocked 67 houses.”

Formerly a football administrator in Khayelitsha, and with the South African Football Association (SAFA) Cape Town, Mr Mkutswana said some of the projects he was proud of included the Khayelitsha Cricket Oval, the multimillion rand Kuyasa library which has a men’s clinic and a gym, and a soup kitchen that assists unemployed people in the community.

In his early days he had to ensure there were street lights throughout the ward and that the entire community had underground pipes although they stayed in the shacks. “I deliberately installed street lights because of crime,” he said. He hailed neighbourhood watch members for waking up early every morning to escort people who go to work to the train stations.

Mr Mkutswana said the new councillor would have to effectively deal with crime.