Top-level bid to save Makana

The Herald (South Africa) - - Front Page - No­maz­ima Nkosi nkosino@ti­soblack­star.co.za

Plans to save the em­bat­tled Makana mu­nic­i­pal­ity will be hashed out at an all-im­por­tant meet­ing be­tween pro­vin­cial and na­tional lead­ers in Pre­to­ria on Fri­day.

This fol­lows a march in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s hub, Makhanda (for­merly Gra­ham­stown), this week where a pe­ti­tion signed by about 21,000 res­i­dents call­ing for the coun­cil to be dis­solved was handed over to speaker Yan­diswa Vara.

East­ern Cape co-op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance and tra­di­tional af­fairs MEC Fik­ile Xasa said he would meet min­is­ter Zweli Mkhize to dis­cuss how the prov­ince would ben­e­fit from Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s stim­u­lus pack­age.

“There are projects that have been pack­aged for Makana mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” Xasa said.

“We are meet­ing in Pre­to­ria where we’ll get a pre­sen­ta­tion on the projects that are be­ing im­ple­mented.

“We know about the in­fra­struc­ture that is crum­bling be­cause it’s old. We want to deal with this once and for all.”

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity has been bat­tling a num­ber of ad­min­is­tra­tive chal­lenges, in­clud­ing fi­nan­cial con­straints, strug­gling to pay staff and cred­i­tors and low rev­enue col­lec­tion rates.

It was also re­cently dis­cov­ered that there were be­tween 60 and 80 ghost em­ploy­ees on the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s pay­roll.

In the pe­ti­tion, the res­i­dents said the coun­cil must be dis­solved due to fre­quent elec­tric­ity and wa­ter out­ages, pot­holes, sewage flow­ing in streets and un­col­lected rub­bish.

Xasa said the pro­vin­cial govern­ment con­stantly in­jected money into the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, with­out any re­sults.

Asked if he would con­sider plac­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­ity un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion, he said that would de­pend on the con­tent of the pe­ti­tion and the rea­sons given by the res­i­dents.

About 24,000 vot­ers cast their bal­lots in the Makana re­gion dur­ing the 2016 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions.

The Gra­ham­stown Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion’s Tim Bull said putting the coun­cil un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion was not nec­es­sar­ily the only so­lu­tion to Makhanda’s prob­lems, but he had noted that when the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was pre­vi­ously un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion there had been im­prove­ments.

“We’ve had 22 months from 2014 to 2016 when we were un­der some ad­min­is­tra­tion and right now it’s worse than when we were un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“We’re at a stage now where al­most ev­ery week there’s a new dis­as­ter of some sort and Tim Bull cer­tainly in the last two weeks we’ve had chronic prob­lems with wa­ter sup­ply.

“Dur­ing that wa­ter cri­sis, which car­ried on for two weeks, we have not had a word from any­body in the coun­cil, in par­tic­u­lar the mayor, of sym­pa­thy or con­cern, of tak­ing charge or to mit­i­gate.” Bull said res­i­dents needed to try to achieve bet­ter po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship and that dur­ing the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion, with the sup­port of the Na­tional Trea­sury, a fi­nan­cial re­cov­ery plan had been drafted but never fully im­ple­mented.

“Just get­ting me­ters read is not tak­ing place be­cause there’s a dis­pute whether me­ter read­ers are wear­ing the right uni­form, which means rates col­lec­tions are go­ing down,” he said.

ANC Sarah Baart­man re­gional chair Scara Nja­dayi said its mem­bers in the coun­cil were new and had in­her­ited re­cur­ring prob­lems such as age­ing in­fra­struc­ture and chal­lenges like the al­leged rise in cor­rup­tion in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

This was ap­par­ently un­cov­ered by re­cently ap­pointed city boss Moppo Mene.

“It was not easy for those coun­cil­lors to con­tend with those chal­lenges, but we granted them the nec­es­sary sup­port,” Nja­dayi said.

“I can’t say th­ese coun­cil­lors are poor in terms of per­for­mance, but they are en­gulfed with chal­lenges and are try­ing their best to deal and con­tend with those chal­lenges.”

Makana DA cau­cus leader Mlindi Nhanha said it was clear that res­i­dents had had enough of the ANC-led govern­ment be­cause it had failed them at ev­ery turn.

Fur­ther, ser­vice de­liv­ery was for­eign to Makana while res­i­dents con­tin­ued pay­ing rates and taxes, Nhanha said.

“The ANC with­out doubt has failed the peo­ple of Makana, hence the DA chose to be on the side of the peo­ple.

“Res­i­dents are call­ing for dis­so­lu­tion of the coun­cil and fresh elec­tions to be held within three months so that vot­ers be given an op­por­tu­nity to elect a new, ca­pa­ble govern­ment led by the DA.

“Eskom debt has been spi­ralling with no end in sight.

“It’s now sit­ting at R69m, ex­clud­ing the cur­rent ac­count.

“In­clud­ing the cur­rent ac­count it is more than R80m.

“A few months ago the coun­cil adopted a DA-spon­sored res­o­lu­tion to ring-fence all rev­enue from elec­tric­ity sales and ser­vice the debt.

“In­stead, they con­tinue pay­ing salaries with money de­rived from elec­tric­ity sales.

“The mayor has failed to en­sure the im­ple­men­ta­tion of this cru­cial res­o­lu­tion.”

Makana mu­nic­i­pal man­ager Mene did not re­spond to calls.

‘Right now it’s worse than when we were un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion’

RES­I­DENTS’ AS­SO­CI­A­TION REP­RE­SEN­TA­TIVE

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