Mayor who can­celled ten­ders sur­vives hit

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

The mayor of Mpumalanga’s Mkhondo mu­nic­i­pal­ity, Vusi Motha, is still shaken af­ter sur­viv­ing a hit, pre­sum­ably for his cor­rup­tion-bust­ing cru­sade in which he can­celled ten­der con­tracts worth more than R300 mil­lion.

Mpumalanga po­lice are still in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ci­dent where a hail of bul­lets rained down on Motha’s ve­hi­cle about three weeks ago.

Motha es­caped un­scathed af­ter at least 21 bul­lets pierced his ve­hi­cle. He was driv­ing alone from his par­ents’ house when he was am­bushed on a road wind­ing through forestry plan­ta­tions near Piet Retief on May 13.

Ac­cord­ing to po­lice, the road was blocked with a log. When Motha stopped his ve­hi­cle, a group of men ap­peared from all sides and fired shots at him ran­domly. Motha ran into the for­est and sur­vived.

Ac­cord­ing to the DA, Motha has been a breath of fresh air in the cor­rup­tion-rid­dled and cash-strapped mu­nic­i­pal­ity af­ter tak­ing a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion that had se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions for sev­eral busi­nesses that were de­pen­dent on mu­nic­i­pal sup­port to sur­vive.

“For the first time, we have a mayor who is thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gat­ing cor­rup­tion and who has con­sulted the op­po­si­tion and sought ad­vice,” said DA coun­cil­lor Rob Wil­son.

Motha took over as mayor af­ter the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions in Au­gust last year. Since then, mu­nic­i­pal man­ager Madubula Mabuza was fired in De­cem­ber and chief fi­nance of­fi­cer Steven Tho­bela re­signed a month ago af­ter he was ques­tioned about sus­pi­cious and in­ex­pli­ca­ble pay­ments.

Motha stopped the con­tro­ver­sial San­bank Road project that Mabuza awarded to Books Projects and Fu­ture JV last year with­out fol­low­ing ten­der pro­ce­dures.

The con­tract to up­grade a 3km ru­ral road, to be used by fewer than 20 homes on a pri­vately owned farm, would have cost the tax­payer R81.4 mil­lion – about R60 mil­lion more than it should.

The con­tract had been awarded to an un­qual­i­fied joint ven­ture com­pany owned by mu­si­cians – Stephen Mapondo Sit­sha (AKA Steve Mapondo) and record­ing artist Os­car “Oskido” Md­longwa’s son, Bass Qhawe Md­longwa. The ven­ture also didn’t meet the cri­te­ria set by the Con­struc­tion In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment Board.

Other ex­pen­di­ture that Motha halted in­cluded: the in­stal­la­tion of 940 smart me­ters with­out a coun­cil res­o­lu­tion; R81 mil­lion in elec­tric­ity money al­legedly si­phoned to pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als; R100 mil­lion spent on wa­ter tanks, with no wa­ter pro­vided to ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties; and R21 mil­lion for the paving of a street less than 1km long.

Motha con­firmed to City Press that he had shaken things up when he came to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and that he was in­ves­ti­gat­ing and stop­ping the im­ple­men­ta­tion of cer­tain projects be­cause ten­der pro­ce­dures had been flouted.

“I’ll be giv­ing a com­pre­hen­sive re­port to Premier David Mabuza soon about ev­ery­thing that has been hap­pen­ing. Many things were done wrong, such as mu­nic­i­pal in­fra­struc­ture grants not be­ing spent for their pur­pose and bud­gets from the depart­ment of en­ergy be­ing di­verted, leav­ing peo­ple with no elec­tric­ity,” Motha said.

“The at­tempt on my life comes with the job,” he said. He said he was happy about his safety af­ter speak­ing to Po­lice Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula and Mpumalanga safety and se­cu­rity MEC Pat Ngo­mana.

Mpumalanga po­lice spokesper­son Bri­gadier Leonard Hlathi said the po­lice had not made a break­through in this case as yet, but in­ves­ti­ga­tions were con­tin­u­ing.

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