By Afesis-corplan

The Glenmore sports facility remains inaccessible to members of the community wishing to use it despite Ngqushwa local municipality allegedly having spent R3-million to refurbish it. In response to a request for support by the Glenmore community, Afesis-corplan has been involved in attempts to get the Ngqushwa Municipality to engage and share information with the community on the project. This was done as part of Afesis-corplan’s Accounting for Basic Services Project which it is facilitating in Ngqushwa and Buffalo City Municipalities.

At the heart of the Glenmore stadium lies the fact that the community with a history of sporting tournament hosting and an active youth around sport now is without a sporting facility as a result of poor workmanship by the contractor that was meant to refurbish the stadium.

According to the tender documents the sports field was to have a new gate house, new male and female VIP ablution facilities, new change rooms, new netball court, new basketball court, new grandstands, new athletics track, refurbished pitch for soccer and rugby, irrigation systems and water fountain.

However when Afesis-corplan visited the field recently they found that poor workmanship had resulted in a building with structural defects and the sports fields had not been properly grassed.

The defects included, among others, an open hole in the ceiling of the changing room; roof leakages; visible cracks in the wall; windows that have been vandalised; uneven floor surfaces; inconsistent tiling; and spectators’ stands that were unstable and not safe for use. Furthermore the guard house next to the main gate had no window.

Speaking at a community meeting in March narrating the depth of the challenge Mr.MzameliGola who coaches the under 13 and senior soccer teams in Glenmore said that the aspirant soccer players walk a distance of 10km every week to get to Ndlambe village to play soccer on a field that is relatively improved simply because their own is in a terrible state, this after the supposed refurbishment.

Nontsikelelo Magobiyane who coaches the under 16 and senior netball teams agreed that this was the same case for the netball teams. She further alluded to the fact that as a result of this, many of the youth have dropped out of the teams she has been coaching because of the long distances they needed to travel for practice.

Glenmore, a village 20km outside Peddie towards Grahamstown, like many rural communities has very few recreational facilities. The sport field was seen by the villagers as a key recreational facility, one that would rally youth towards a good course.

One of the villagers alluded to how, as a result of the closed sports field, youth related social-ills have escalated in the area as a resulting of loitering about with no recreational activities.

All the community of Glenmore requires from Ngqushwa Municipality is information pertaining to what the contractor was asked to do, at what standards and whether in its assessment the municipality believes to have received value for its money. If not, the community wants to know what the municipality plans to do to hold the contractor accountable and wants to be part of seeking solutions that will eventually lead to the use of the stadium for its intended purpose.

The municipality has ignored and refused all attempts by both the community and its partner, Afesis-corplan, to access information that would assist in answering the questions the community has. Access to information is a constitutional guaranteed right under South African Law, one that ensures that communities like Glenmore are able to meaningfully participate in local governance. It is towards this end that we as Afesis-corplan are resolute in exercising our right in holding the relevant officials in the municipality to account.

With the support of Afesis-corplan, the community of Glenmore organised an Indaba on March 27 where the municipality and the contractor Onke Mgunculu of Mgunculu Trading were invited to attend but declined.

The Indaba is as a result of years of failed attempts to get answers from the municipality. The Indaba went ahead as planned and the community of Glenmore made it known that poverty and rural location will never be determinants of how government should treat its citizens in a democratic South Africa.

The people of Glenmore have now resolved to draft a petition to office bearers at Ngqushwa local municipality to rectify the sports field as soon as possible.

Afesis-corplan’s programme officer Lindokuhle Vellem said the two year delay in getting the sports field working again had had a negative social impact on the community of Glenmore.

“For a community that derived immense social and economic benefits from the sporting activities and from a thriving culture of active sport, the delays in the refurbishment of the sport field cannot be underestimated,” Vellem said.

Ngqushwa local municipality spokeswoman NcumisaCakweNgqushwa declined to comment on the state of the Glenmore sports field refurbishment and its state of readiness, despite numerous requests for comment by Afesis-corplan.

The Accounting for Basic Services project is a partnership between the Heinrich Boell Foundation, Afesis-corplan, the Built Environment Support Group, Planact and Isandla Institute with support from the European Union.