A new conservation project for Cosmo City

A new inspiring project funded by the EPWP (Expanded Public Works Program), facilitated by Joburg City Parks and implemented by Green Beings has started in Cosmo City. This project will run from February - June 2015.
Green Beings has employed 10 local active residents who have a passion in creating a sustainable future and will become the park’s rangers. The resident’s role is to promote environmental stewardship in the Tree Park in ext 6 and Conservation Area!
Hands on practical training will be given to identify different plants, remove alien vegetation, plant indigenous, clean up and do informative community education & awareness campaigns that will assist in minimising waste, recycling and anti-dumping.
The park-Rangers will transform the way Cosmo City community interacts with their natural environment.
When Cosmo City was built, the Cosmo City Conservation Area was planned with a strategic focus of preservation of natural fauna, flora, wetlands and continual environmental awareness of Cosmo City residents. Over the last six years the conservation area has become severely degraded.
The majority of this land comprises of ‘Rocky highveld grassland’ or ‘Bankenveld’ a sub category of the Grassland biome.Floristically the Grassland biome of South Africa is amongst the richest in the world. The Bankenveld found in the Cosmo City Nature Reserve is one of the most threatened vegetation types comprising the South African Grassland biome
In 2005 when construction of Cosmo city began, 305 hectares was set aside for conservation purposes. The area has not been proclaimed as a Nature Reserve, and remains a “Conservation Area”, which is an ambiguous term and is not recognised in South African law.
To ensure the rehabilitation of the conservation area and tree park is sustainable, the team will be working closely with Cosmo community leaders and local residents to ensure their buy-in for the initiative. Schools are a focal point of the community and all the schools boarder the Cosmo Conservation Area, schools will be encouraged to become active stewards of the area by “adopting” sections to ensure illegal dumping is reported, water is tested reuglarly and local biodiversity is conserved.
This is an exciting start to the year whereby all residents are encouraged to work collectively to achieve the goals and vision residents have for their community in order to create a community that is safe and healthy for everyone to live in.

Ward 100 Councillor and the community

There have been some calls for the Ward 100 councillor, Mme Nonny Raphatha, to step down. The calls have been from various people who represent interests groups in the Ward. The more recent march in Cosmo City has been another platform from which demands for her to step down were made. Various accusations were labelled at her by the march participants as could be read from the placards they carried.
There are many versions of accusations directed to her which reached our office as well, like not attending residents meetings, selling land, not creating jobs, not doing much for the Ward and so on, including harassing street vendors.
Although there are some demands that are being put to the councillor, one wonders if the residents are not exceedingly demanding things that are outside her control. For example selling municipal land is not an easy thing to do as it would involve acquiring title deeds. Some construction work that is happening in and around Cosmo City is being done by private contractors who are not bound by any law to employ people of anybody’s choice. The interest groups that have sprung up in recent years in the Ward have risen in number and in her own defence she says “some representatives of such groups have a mistaken belief that I should attend each and every meeting that they organize” she points out. “If I attend they are happy and shower me with praises and if I do not then I am not carrying out my duties” she complains.
There are some legal protocols that must be adhered to before some things happen. It would be good for residents to start by doing a little research for themselves before asking the councillor to be involved. There are various Ward committee members who were voted by residents to assist the councillor; one would like to believe that they are more inclined to attend discussion meetings as they are the people on the ground. A re-look in what interest groups, including resident committees, real need from the councillor is crucial to maintaining the ward and to keep stability and progress in the Ward. She cannot be attending every meeting that discusses brain storming topics if there ward committee members to assist her. Her term of office will end in 2016 if the groups vote her out.
Memos sent to the City Council Speaker are another way of seeking re-address in matters involving the councillor. Let us all approach our civic obligations with reason and humility.

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