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

CityPress - - News - SIZWE SAMA YENDE sizwe.yende@city­press.co.za

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”.

PHOTO: SIZWE SAMA YENDE

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

Lindi Masina

Mmela Mahlangu

Phindile Mmola

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