By Emily Setona
HARRISMITH – The Intabazwe community hall was filled as the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) held a meeting with residents of both Harrismith and Kestell to discuss the splitting of Maluti – a – Phofung local municipality (MAP).
According to Bea Campbell – Cloete who is a ward councillor in Kestell splitting Map will create two smaller, more manageable municipalities. “Each municipality will be able to focus on the differing development needs and have a greater chance to grow the economies, bring investment and create jobs! Currently Harrismith and Kestell areas are deprived of growth, presumably because of the reputation MAP has built up over the years and investors have lost confidence. Businesses are closing due to the track record of service delivery being non-existent. If the two municipalities split, the Harrismith Municipality can rebuild, regain confidence, get investment back in and start a trajectory of growth which will, in the long run, benefit both municipalities.” Campbell – Cloete said in an interview with The Guard.
Moses Moloi said that it is high time that Kestell and Harrismith split from Qwaqwa because everything that the municipality does in MAP is focused only on Qwaqwa and Kestell suffers. “I live in Kestell and there hasn’t been any new developments in our community for a very long time. The MAP municipality focuses on Qwaqwa and forgets about us living in Kestell, we are really suffering. You only have to walk around the streets of Kestell and see the scourge of unemployment it is very bad, this demarcation must happen so that things can go back to how they used to be,” Moloi said. This sentiment was also echoed by local businessmen and farmers from Harrismith and Kestell who would like to invest in the community but due to the poor service delivery in the area they fear it will be a poor investment because of all the poor service delivery and corruption happening in MAP.
The Harrismith area is situated on the N3 and N5 routes for trading, import and export as well as tourism. By all indication, they should be growing but is not the case that is why many residents from this community want the new demarcation to be in effect so that the area has an opportunity to grow. According to Leona Kleynhans who is a member of the Free State Legislature about 800 to 1000 people attended and all were in support of the proposal to split MAP into two municipalities, thus creating a new municipality including Harrismith, Kestell, Tlolong, Intabazwe, Tshiame A,B and C, SEZ, and farming areas in between. “Now the MDB must consider the inputs from the meeting and publish their final proposal in November. People will then again have 30 days for comment or objection,” Kleynhans said.
By January 2024, next year the MDB will know if the proposal will go ahead and if it is successful the new municipality will be implemented at local government election in 2026.