Co-operatives voice concern

Cooperative enterprises in waste management in Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) have accused the Chris Hani Development Agency (CHDA) of not adhering to the waste management legislative mandate and have raised concerns following the implementation of a R30 million recycling plant project.

According to a letter issued by Zola Nocanda of Queen Nonesi Recycling Waste Management and Cleaning Primary Cooperative Ltd, cooperatives in EMLM were introduced to a recycling plant project, championed by the department of environmental affairs (DEA) in 2014, whereby R30 million was deposited to the CHDA account. The letter indicates that the project was implemented late in 2018, with claims that the authority failed to report back to the co-operatives involved.

“We are stakeholders and beneficiaries of this project, but we realised that we had not been consulted. Instead we were sidelined by the CHDA. Our other complaint was the involvement of cooperative development centres. We do not want any middlemen in this matter. There is no evidence or any reports to prove what the R30 million was spent on. We therefore demand accountability for the R30 million and the accumulated interest. We see nothing that makes us proud. What we need now is a community awareness programme with an agreed environmental waste management system. We need to work together addressing global challenges through local efforts, building community development workers and we want to be recognised,” said Nocanda.

Thando Memani of Impuma Environmental Health Solutions in Ilinge said the appointment of new leadership at the agency had brought problems and created conflict. “The initial plan was that decisions taken would be open and transparent, but instead we are not informed of what is taking place.”

Vuyisile Mani of Langa Lokukhanya Cooperative in Ilinge said they had undergone workshops and training programmes without progress. “We heard rumours that the local municipality would run the buy-back centre in Ezibeleni. We want clarity on such issues.”

Nontobeko Klaas of Keep e-Waste and Recycling Co-op said the buy-back centres had full capacity to operate. “We are willing to work with the authorities to promote sustainable development, but they do not engage with us. They are now politicising this matter. We appeal to the national government to look into this,” she said.

Responding to questions sent by The Rep, CHDA management indicated that the project was implemented by CHDA on behalf of EMLM, stating that funding was received later than the approval date, causing construction delays.

“The funding from DEA was for the employment of Extended Public Works Programme waste collectors for EMLM, the construction of waste buy-back centres (the transfer stations at Ilinge and Lesseyton and waste buy-back centre at Ezibeleni) and the procurement of specialised equipment for the sorting facility. The centres were completed late, with the main centre at Ezibeleni still in the final stages of completion. The transfer stations have been completed and were handed over to Enoch Mgijima in March 2020. The waste centres are not yet operational because for them to operate the main centre, Ezibeleni waste buy-back centre, has to be complete.”

Management indicated that the agency had to delay activities involving stakeholder engagement due to Covid-19 regulations, thus affecting projects.

“We are currently assisting the waste co-ops to form and register the secondary co-ops to ease communication and we agreed that the secondary co-ops will communicate with primary co-ops. We are finalising the appointment of a contractor to complete the construction of the Ezibeleni waste buy-back centre, and finalising a service-level agreement draft ready to be signed by EMLM, CHDA and the waste co-ops. Thereafter we will hand over the certificates to participants. CHDA has been mandated by EMLM to manage and operate the Lesseyton and Ilinge waste transfer stations and Ezibeleni waste buy-back centre once construction is completed. We will work with waste co-ops in every step of the operations.”

Management also highlighted that unaccredited training workshops, as part of support to co-ops and small, medium and micro enterprises which was not specific to the project was provided to capacitate them on waste management in general, adding that the DEA had performed audit processes twice a year to ensure compliance.

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