Another legal showdown between the government and Amadiba Community of Xolobeni in the town of Mbizana, in Eastern Cape Wild Coast is looming over the construction of the N2 Toll Road Project.
This follows another heated community meeting where the rival groups that are in support of the Wild Coast Toll Road Project faced off with those that are opposed, led by Amadiba Crisis Committee.
Police were called in and they used stun grenades and teargas to prevent some of the community members from attending the meeting.
Eastern Cape MEC for Public Works and Infrastructure Babalo Madikizela said those that were dispersed by the police were not supposed to be part of the meeting because they are not living in the area which is going to be affected by the road construction.
But Amadiba Crisis Committee leader Nonhle Mbuthuma said police turned away people who were supposed to be part of the meeting and this was because they are opposed to the proposed government plans.
Mbuthuma said the community will go to court and force the government to use the original design of the route which is 10 Kilometres away from the village.
“Right now, it is clear that we are going to take this matter to court. We were trying to accommodate them but it’s clear they do not want to hear from us, they have another agenda.
They are pushing their agenda to our mouths before we even open our mouths,” said Mbuthuma.
She accused both the government and its national roads entity, the South African National Roads Agency [SANRAL] of using apartheid tactics such as forcibly removing people and pushing through so-called development plans against the opposing views.
Mbuthuma said Madikizela dictated terms of engagement to the community and used certain people who had been coerced to accept this development plan.
“What Madikizela has done today [Friday] was to force development on the people after he said earlier no one is going to be forced to accept the development if they are against it.
But later he said as a government they have decided the way on which the road is going to go, not what was proposed by the people,” said Mbuthuma.
She said part of the reason that the meeting started five hours late was that Madikizela was busy organising the police to prevent the people who were supposed to be in the meeting and only accepted those who had been bought to support the government decision.
On the other hand, Madikizela denied the claims and said the meeting was not meant for the entire community but only for those who are going to be directly affected by the road construction.
He accused Mbuthuma and the members of the Amadiba Crisis Committee of trying to sabotage the meeting and for bussing in people that were not supposed to be in the meeting.
“We have had several consultations and reached the decision that today’s meeting [last Friday] was only going to be attended by the people who are directly affected because they will have to move and make a way for the road construction.
Most of the people that attended had nothing to do with the road because they are from other parts of the village but far from the area where the road is going to go through.
But it has been Nonhle’s [Mbuthuma] common practice that whenever they are losing an argument, they turn out to be disruptive, to cause chaos and collapse the meetings.
This time that didn’t succeed because the police dealt with everyone who was not supposed to be in the meeting, and it was only left to those who were invited because they were affected and the majority of them agreed to make a way for the project.” he said,
Madikizela said the Amadiba Crisis Committee is more concerned about the mining and they regard the Wild Coast N2 Toll Road Project as a gateway for the mining.
“These two are unrelated. This road is the gateway to the development of the Wild Coast for tourism, Ocean’s Economy, Beach Estates, the development of the Port at Port St Johns and so on,” said Madikizela.
Winnie Madikizela Ward 28 Councillor [Xolobeni] Mzamo Dlamini also accused Mbuthuma of misleading the community with mining as a scaremongering tactic.
He said the Amadiba Crisis Committee is not the only voice of the community.
“They are the loudest voice but not the only legitimate voice of the community. They don’t constitute the majority because this community is large, and many people here want development.
Many people are in support of the development of the Wild Coast N2 Toll Road Project and are willing to leave their homes for the success of this project.
Those that are objecting are doing so because they have been fed propaganda that this development means they will lose their land, this area will be taken over the mine but that is a separate issue from what this project is about,” said Dlamini.
Mbuthuma has on numerous occasions said the Wild Coast N2 Toll Road Project and the mining are inseparable and had been proven by the design of the new route for the N2 Toll Road Project.
By Johnnie Isaac