The MP in the cheap municipal flat
Municipal manager with good track record who flagged housing discrepancies is redeployed, with allegations that it’s linked to not giving mayoral friends jobs
Appoint credible political leadership at provincial and regional level;
Regional political leadership must stop appointing municipal managers and giving them a mandate, as that opens them up to corruption. That should rather be done by the minister of cooperative governance;
Ensure that chief financial officers are appointed and get their mandate from the minister of finance, as some of them are influenced and forced to interfere in tenders out of fear of losing their jobs;
Introduce different panels to interview and make appointments in other key positions;
Professionalise municipal managers by bringing in academics who are often overlooked to lead local government;
Ensure that credible councillors are elected and are vetted by looking at their qualifications, and criminal and credit records;
Stop factionalism in councils. It often leads to serious fights between mayors and speakers or even chief whips, and they end up frustrating each other and hampering service delivery;
Implement a system that will vet indigents to stop councillors from fraudulently rigging the process by registering people who are not qualified, with the sole purpose of getting finance from Treasury. The more indigents a municipality gets, the more allocation it receives from government and the more looting there is;
Put an online tendering system in place across all municipalities to eliminate rigging;
Involve the church and traditional leaders in local government; and
Run government online by introducing a system whereby communities can log complaints online or at community centres.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Lucky Menoe from Corruption Watch has these five pointers:
Report corruption when you see it happening – either to the Public Protector or to Corruption Watch, which then investigates and researches corruption;
Speak up: Join the conversation about corruption on corruptionwatchconnected.org, and get support and advice from other members of the group;
Monitor: Read your local municipality’s Integrated Development Plan so you know what should be delivered and by when so you can report it as it happens in corruption-prone spheres such as housing;
Demand transparency and hold those in power to account; and
Start with yourself: Be a person of integrity, obey the law and don’t bribe anyone to get out of trouble.
Phindile Mmola is a member of Parliament but she refuses to let go of a flat meant for low-income residents in her home town. The mayor, Lindi Masina, was turning a blind eye to this, sources say, because Mmola is a friend. Instead, they claim, Masina gunned for then municipal manager Mmela Mahlangu because he had not wanted to provide jobs for the mayor’s friends.
Mmola brushed aside these claims and defended her refusal to vacate the premises.
“I was elected by those people and they didn’t do so for me to leave them to stay in town.”
The Tsalanang Family Complex, in Embalenhle near Secunda in Mpumalanga, is managed by the Govan Mbeki Housing Company, a not-for-profit entity of the municipality. The apartments were built for people who do not qualify for free RDP houses but also cannot get a mortgage.
The rent is R1 020 a month. Mmola, a member of the portfolio committee on police in the National Assembly in Cape Town, earns about R80 000 a month. She told City Press she was afraid that if she went to live in a better house, the voters would accuse her of being corrupt. However, two sources in the Govan Mbeki municipality independently suggested that Mmola’s continued occupation of one of the 192 units in the complex was the result of her friendship with the mayor. But Masina denied this. She said she was friends with Mmola because they belonged to the same organisation. She had not influenced her decision to stay in the apartment after she was elected to Parliament. “I don’t know whether she had to get out of the apartment when she became a member of Parliament or not,” said Masina. She pointed out that she had nothing to do with the Govan Mbeki Housing Company. But City Press has found that Masina may have housing issues of her own. She has her own house in Secunda extension 22, where she stays full time, but her official mayoral house on 17 Begonia Street in Bethal is occupied by a relative of her husband. It is not known if he pays rental or not The house is maintained and insured by the public purse. “There’s no way I can do that. I stay in that house when I’m in Bethal because it was allocated to me by council,” said the mayor. The housing saga was thought to be the source of tension between Masina and the prior municipal manager, Mahlangu. The ANC redeployed him to the post of manager at the Msukaligwa Local Municipality in Ermelo in an apparent attempt to keep the peace. The source, who did not want to be named for fear of intimidation, alleged that Masina had been attempting to fire Mahlangu. The source said this was because Mahlangu had complained that he was forced to hire unqualified friends and relatives of the mayor to positions in the municipality. Masina said allegations of a feud with Mahlangu were “very petty and untrue”. Govan Mbeki Housing Company financial officer Stuart Manzini said residents in the complex were expected to renew their flat leases every second year and produce their proof of income to establish that they “still qualified” to stay there. He said that the Tsalanang flats were built for people earning between R3 500 and R7 500 a month, but admitted that some people were earning more than that and continuing to stay in the flats. “That’s politics and there’s nothing more we can do about it,” he said. Good Governance Africa ranked Govan Mbeki municipality 34th of 234 municipalities for administration, service delivery and economic development under Mahlangu’s leadership. It was the best in Mpumalanga and eight places above the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality. Mahlangu’s contract was to have expired after the August local government elections and his redeployment was spun as an initiative “to strengthen the struggling Msukaligwa municipality”.
FLAT RATES The controversial Tsalanang Family Complex in Mbalenhle, Secunda. The complex is in the spotlight because a member of Parliament earning about R80K per month refuses to leave a flat here that she rents for just over R1 000 a month – and which is meant for low-income-earning families