‘WE WILL NOT BACK DOWN’

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - SANDI KWON HOO CHIEF RE­PORTER

COM­MU­NITY mem­bers in Barkly West, who are dis­sat­is­fied with the lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s re­sponse to their griev­ances, said yes­ter­day that they would not be back­ing down fol­low­ing protest ac­tion in the CBD and at the four-way in­ter­sec­tion be­tween Matal­eng and De Beer­shoogte ear­lier this week.

In­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lor Ment­ley Bezuiden­hout yes­ter­day in­di­cated that com­mu­nity mem­bers had shut down the Dik­gat­long mu­nic­i­pal of­fices since Tues­day.

“Cen­tral to the list of de­mands was the re­moval of the chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer (CFO) and the mayor, who are still in of­fice. The De­part­ment of Co-op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance, Hu­man Set­tle­ments and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs (Cogh­sta) is re­fus­ing to dis­solve the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and there is no re­sponse to our re­quest for a Sec­tion 106 in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” said Bezuiden­hout.

He added that there was no guar­an­tee that the R31 would re­main open to traf­fic. “Protest ac­tion started on Tues­day, af­ter the HOD for Cogh­sta de­liv­ered his re­sponse to the mem­o­ran­dum that was handed over last week. The po­lice shot at the com­mu­nity on Wed­nes­day. The com­mu­nity are still ag­grieved, so they can re­turn to the streets at any time.”

Po­lice spokesper­son, Cap­tain Ser­gio Kock, said that about 150 pro­test­ers had al­legedly forced a truck driver to off-load the man­ganese rock that he was trans­port­ing, onto the street in Barkly West on Tues­day.

“The man­ganese was re­moved from the park­ing lot of a lo­cal su­per­mar­ket on Wed­nes­day. No in­juries have been re­ported and no ar­rests have been made as yet. The sit­u­a­tion in Barkly West is cur­rently calm. How­ever, the po­lice are still mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion,” said Kock.

The spokesper­son for Cogh­sta, Xhanti Teki, stated that the MEC for Cogh­sta and Pro­vin­cial Trea­sury would send a fact-find­ing team to Dik­gat­long Mu­nic­i­pal­ity to in­ves­ti­gate the is­sues raised by the com­mu­nity.

“They will re­port back to the pro­vin­cial cabi­net ac­cord­ingly. The rec­om­men­da­tion will be tabled to the ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil for de­ci­sion mak­ing and coun­cil. Feed­back will be given to the com­mu­nity in due course,” said Teki.

He added that the De­part­ment of Pro­vin­cial Trea­sury and Cogh­sta had been mon­i­tor­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the fi­nan­cial re­cov­ery plan since Novem­ber 2016.

“The out­come of the re­cov­ery plan will de­ter­mine whether the mu­nic­i­pal­ity will still re­quire sup­port on the gov­er­nance, fi­nan­cial and ad­min­is­tra­tion is­sues.”

Teki added that the re­moval of the mayor was the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the po­lit­i­cal party.

“The mat­ter was re­ferred to the rel­e­vant party for cog­ni­sance. The CFO is cur­rently on spe­cial leave and any dis­ci­plinary ac­tion will be con­ducted af­ter her ma­ter­nity leave and the out­comes thereof will be com­mu­ni­cated to the coun­cil and the com­mu­nity at large.”

He said the MEC would also meet with the mayor of Phok­wane Mu­nic­i­pal­ity af­ter the salaries of more than 76 em­ploy­ees were cut by up to half in the Novem­ber salary run.

The em­ploy­ees claim that they are be­ing tar­geted for sup­port­ing the sus­pended mu­nic­i­pal man­ager and stated that they had not en­gaged in any strike ac­tion.

Teki pointed out that it was crit­i­cal for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to op­er­ate above party pol­i­tics.

“The sit­u­a­tion in Phok­wane is not only con­cern­ing, but un­ac­cept­able. The tom­fool­ery over power whilst peo­ple are wait­ing for ser­vices is re­gres­sive to say the least. The MEC will meet the mayor in or­der to re­solve this im­passe.”

Pic­ture: Su­pllied

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