Residents of Heidedaal Township in Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality have welcomed the proposed merger of the city with Naledi Local Municipality, saying it could bring more opportunities to the city as it will have a bigger budget.
At a public hearing held in the township on Thursday, residents were optimistic that the merger would result in improved services as the city would be having a larger revenue base and a bigger budget with which to implement projects.
Heidedal has a population of about 9 000 people and it is one of the most impoverished areas in the metropolitan. Substance abuse and gangsterism are rife as most of the unemployed youths resort to crime to pass time. The township is also plagued with an acute housing shortage.
One of the councillors from the township Joan Peterson said she hoped that the incorporation of Naledi into Mangaung would improve the economic and social life in this township as the city would be operating on larger budget.
“This means our municipality will be bigger and our budget will also increase,” said Peterson.
“People from here will be able to receive the services they need such as more houses and jobs. We are hoping that we will also be gaining the needed skills from this new municipality,” added Peterson.
The main towns in Naledi include Dewetsdorp, Wepenaar and Van Standensrus.
City authorities are also considering incorporating Masilonyane Local Municipality which has also been struggling to deliver basic services to residents. The municipality which lies to the north of Mangaung is made up of the towns of Soutpan, Brandfort, Theunissen, Winburg and Verkeerdevlei.
Petrus Mela, 35, who is presently working under the community works programme cleaning parks and roads says he wants to see more opportunities coming to the city so that he can earn a better salary.
“The only way for our metro to get bigger is absorbing other municipalities especially those that are struggling financially,” said Mela
“That is how bigger metros like Johannesburg grew. Presently, I only receive a stipend of R1 000 a month but if Mangaung expands, my salary will also improve,” he added.
Elizabeth Scheepers, 65, has lived in Heidedal for most of her life and says she wants to see more development in Heidedal in the form of better housing and more jobs.
“We are happy and we welcome people from Naledi,” said Scheepers.
“We hope that our municipality will now be able to help us with what we need especially jobs for our young people. In this area young people and families struggle to make ends meet but hopefully that will pass,” added Scheepers.
But other residents were worried that the metro’s budget could be constrained as it will be spread over a larger municipality. They argued that the fact the municipality could not carry its own weight now means it will simply become a burden to Mangaung.
“We are not working, we need houses and we take on other people with similar challenges… This is worrying,” said one resident.
“Yes it will extend our boundaries and make our municipality bigger, but will it provide everyone with their basic needs?” the resident added.
Similar public meetings have already been held in Thaba Nchu and Botshabelo.