Abaqu­lusi mu­nic­i­pal­ity in dire straits

CityPress - - News - PADDY HARPER paddy.harper@city­press.co.za

The ad­min­is­tra­tion in the Abaqu­lusi Mu­nic­i­pal­ity in­cor­po­rat­ing Vry­heid has col­lapsed. The sit­u­a­tion is so dire that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity has failed to pay var­i­ous sup­pli­ers, who have stopped pro­vid­ing ser­vices, and the unions are call­ing for the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s in­ter­ven­tion.

The unions, Samwu and Imatu, want KwaZulu-Na­tal Co­op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance MEC No­musa Dube-Mn­cube to place Abaqu­lusi un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion. The mu­nic­i­pal­ity has been un­able to em­ploy a per­ma­nent mu­nic­i­pal man­ager since 2012.

Both unions have planned a march next week to present the min­istry with a mem­o­ran­dum con­tain­ing a list of griev­ances around the col­lapse of the coun­cil and a re­quest for the in­ter­ven­tion.

City Press vis­ited the town this week and found that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity has failed to even re­place a tyre on one of its two tankers, cru­cial to sup­ply­ing the town and sur­round­ing town­ships with wa­ter.

On Thurs­day, res­i­dents told City Press that Vry­heid had been with­out wa­ter for four days. They said its 12 000-litre tanker was stand­ing on blocks in a mu­nic­i­pal yard where it has been parked for four months be­cause the tyre sup­plier has not been paid.

Res­i­dents from the town’s suburbs and Mondlo town­ship were fill­ing buck­ets and con­tain­ers at a sin­gle tap in the mu­nic­i­pal park, while others were col­lect­ing wa­ter from tanks in an open area a block away.

“We are in a crisis. This mu­nic­i­pal­ity has ceased to func­tion. The act­ing mu­nic­i­pal man­ager’s con­tract has ex­pired and the coun­cil was un­able to make up a quo­rum for the meet­ing to dis­cuss the ex­ten­sion of his con­tract. There are a large num­ber of posts that have not been filled for sev­eral years,” said Imatu shop stew­ard Khehla Mkhwanazi.

“Sup­pli­ers haven’t been paid for months, as it seems that the act­ing mu­nic­i­pal man­ager does not have sign­ing pow­ers. We can­not make out­side phone calls be­cause Telkom hasn’t been paid.

“We need the MEC to in­ter­vene. Sec­tion 139 (c) must be ap­plied and an ad­min­is­tra­tor must be ap­pointed,’’ he de­manded.

The coun­cil, run by a failed Na­tional Free­dom Party-ANC coali­tion, has been un­able to form a quo­rum in sched­uled meet­ings. In­fight­ing in the ANC’s Abaqu­lusi re­gion has also con­trib­uted to the dys­func­tion of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, unions say.

Samwu shop stew­ard Khulekani Dlamini de­scribed the failed coali­tion as an “abor­tion” and said there was “no po­lit­i­cal will’’ to deal with the crisis.

“This coun­cil does not func­tion be­cause of a lack of po­lit­i­cal will. It has not func­tioned since 2012 and things are get­ting worse.

“We fear that noth­ing will be done between now and Au­gust be­cause the coun­cil­lors don’t know if they will be com­ing back or not. We need the min­istry to bring in an ad­min­is­tra­tor ur­gently,” Dlamini said.

Mean­while, the Na­tional Free­dom Party-ANC part­ner­ship hangs in the bal­ance and the par­ties have not agreed on any al­liance pact be­fore the Au­gust poll.

Abaqu­lusi spokesper­son Arnold Ramod­ibe and act­ing mu­nic­i­pal man­ager Bongiwe Mnikathi did not re­spond to calls and emails from City Press.

TALK TO US Should the Abaqu­lusi Mu­nic­i­pal­ity be placed un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word WA­TER and tell us what you think. In­clude your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50

PHOTO: SIYANDA MAYEZA

Vry­heid res­i­dents have had no wa­ter in their homes for four days

Khulekani Dlamini

Khehla Mkhwanazi

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