Thaba Ch­weu, Mpumalanga

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

Over­flow­ing sew­er­age, pot­holes, rub­bish bins and bulging plastic bags left un­col­lected for days are the sig­na­ture marks of Mashish­ing town­ship in Mpumalanga.

The nearby town of Mashish­ing (for­merly Ly­den­burg) is the seat of Thaba Ch­weu Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, the tourism mecca of Mpumalanga, boast­ing attractions such as God’s Win­dow and the his­toric min­ing town of Pil­grim’s Rest.

All the service de­liv­ery weak­nesses the eye can see point to vast prob­lems in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. Thaba Ch­weu – with a pop­u­la­tion of 98 387 and stretch­ing over 5 730km² – re­ceived a record eighth suc­ces­sive dis­claimer from Au­di­tor-Gen­eral Kimi Mak­wetu for the 2015/16 fi­nan­cial year.

De­spite this, Thaba Ch­weu has been spared being placed un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion.

It has also been be­set by spo­radic service de­liv­ery protests since 2009.

“They are loot­ing in broad day­light”, said DA coun­cil­lor Com­fort Sibiya.

“The ANC can­not put this mu­nic­i­pal­ity un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion be­cause if there is any mu­nic­i­pal­ity that can be won by the op­po­si­tion in Mpumalanga, it is Thaba Ch­weu.”

The DA, the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers and the Bush­buck­ridge Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion have grown in Thaba Ch­weu af­ter the last lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, held in 2016.

Of the 27 coun­cil­lors, 10 are on the op­po­si­tion benches.

Sibiya said the ANC’s Bohla­bela re­gional ex­ec­u­tive had been in­ter­fer­ing with pro­cure­ment and ap­point­ment is­sues in Thaba Ch­weu.

“Lead­ers here try their best to please the ANC re­gion. Hence, com­pa­nies are ap­pointed with­out fol­low­ing pro­ce­dures and of­fi­cials who do not meet re­quire­ments are ap­pointed. We are go­ing for a record 10th dis­claimer in this mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” he said, ad­ding that rec­om­men­da­tions of the mu­nic­i­pal pub­lic ac­counts com­mit­tee and the au­dit com­mit­tee were of­ten snubbed.

Sibiya also said Thaba Ch­weu owed Eskom more than R300 mil­lion, but when City Press ques­tioned mu­nic­i­pal spokesper­son Pu­leng Mapheto about this, he said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity could re­spond to Mak­wetu’s re­port only next week.

Mashish­ing res­i­dent Vusi Manzini said many of his neighbours had given up hope that things would come right in their neigh­bour­hood.

“The mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials and politi­cians do as they please, with­out con­sult­ing us. We al­ways get sur­prised when they in­crease elec­tric­ity and wa­ter tar­iffs,” he said.

“There are no me­ter read­ings. How do they de­ter­mine how much wa­ter peo­ple use?

“This means they can tam­per with fi­nances at the revenue col­lec­tion depart­ment.

“All these things con­trib­ute to the dis­claimers and lack of service de­liv­ery – and they are very cor­rupt,” Manzini said of the mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials.

He said mu­nic­i­pal man­agers were also of­ten changed, lead­ing to fur­ther in­sta­bil­ity.

An­other res­i­dent, Billy Mankgane, said there had been act­ing mu­nic­i­pal man­agers for the past 10 years and “the ap­point­ment of un­qual­i­fied of­fi­cials has been a big is­sue, con­tribut­ing to the col­lapse in ad­min­is­tra­tion”.

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