Overseas trips and land issues discussed at latest Ndlambe council meeting
WITH Stephen Scheepers from the Auditor General’s office present, the Ndlambe council held an open council meeting last Thursday to present the tabled budget for 2018-19 and discuss other matters.
After the council had rejected an application for a resident to purchase a small section of redundant land in Kenton-on-Sea, it went on to approve the passing of municipally-owned land to churches.
DA caucus leader Ray Schenk said that this was hypocritical and could not understand why a piece of land the municipality can do nothing with but still has to maintain could not have been sold.
“We would make revenue from the sale, would not have to maintain the land anymore and it would increase the value of the applicant’s property and therefore increase rates revenue to the municipality,” Schenk said. The figures presented for January showed that, of the 22 samples taken around Ndlambe, all showed 100% compliance with the SA National Standards that predetermine drinking water must have a zero count for e.coli (which is generally transmitted through faecal contamination). However, the figures presented for February revealed a different story.
Of the 22 new samples taken, only 17 passed with 100% compliance. Of the three samples tested in Alexandria, for example, none passed the test. One of the three samples taken in Bathurst failed, and one of the two samples from Kenton also failed.
The difference had council speaker, Vivian Maphaphu, angry as she admonished the administration on not warning residents of the potential danger. “You have failed dismally in not letting people know there are problems,” she said.
On the subject of the recent listeriosis outbreak that has seen cold meats being recalled and destroyed all around the country, DA PR councillor Khanyisa Daweti said the municipality had not done enough to inform residents of the problem or pointed out which foods to avoid while the crisis continues.
The beleaguered Amatola Bulk Water Project also came under the council’s scrutiny at the meeting with councillors and municipal administrators appearing to be at odds with the items reported.
Initially Amatola Water had promised several “quick wins” that forecast at the earliest stages of the project, but these do not seem to have been achieved. It was also erroneously stated that Ndlambe, as the water service authority, had appointed Amatola Water to the project. Councillors were quick to point out that the authority responsible was actually the Department of Water and Sanitation, and not Ndlambe.
ANC PR councillor Monica Mateti said their hadn’t been any quick wins on the project since 2011.
“There are pipes lying around Alexandria and residents are worried,” she said.
The oversight committee tendered its report at the council meeting but concerns were raised that those who had been found guilty of squandering municipal funds. Schenk asked why there was nothing in the report regarding any action taken against those who had spent funds irregularly or without authorisation. There was no answer from council regarding his concern.
The municipal stores, adjacent to the police station, have been seemingly under siege in recent times as items including tools, vehicle parts, fuel and more has been taken. The necessity to clamp down on these blatant thefts was realised by the council and measures taken to curb larceny. A report on the current status was compiled but concerns were raised that the report did not appear in the agenda.
A motion of exigency was presented to council asking that the allowance for councillors and officials currently attending a trip to Germany be increased as they were only paid expenses based on the old rates by the South African Local Government Association.
Schenk said that the trip had not been approved by council and was therefore irregular.