Residents have had it in chunks

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GK CRONJE

3 May 2022

"A municipality cannot be run by friends and family who don't even have a Grade 12 qualification. Everyone is acting, but nobody steps up to take the blame for the failures."

Chaos erupted at Msukaligwa Local Municipality on Thursday, 28 April 2022, when a number of answer-seeking community members arrived at the municipal offices. Whilst the main reason for the gathering was the fact that they have been left without water and electricity for more than ten days while municipal officials beat around the bush, they also vented their frustration at the alleged nepotism and corruption within the municipality. According to the well known community champion, Mzwandile Zulu, several decisions have been made within the municipality that contravenes both the ANC mandate, as well as the rules of conduct as set forth in the constitution. According to Zulu, far-reaching decisions were made during a council meeting where an inadequate number of councillors were present. Therefore all members of council were either not aware or consulted on decisions taken by the acting troika members. The question of the original troika members also lingered, where the community stated that the elected troika was unlawfully removed, and replaced with the action trio, who had allegedly been appointed through means of nepotism. On the day, the community demanded answers as to the lack of transparency at the municipality, and the empty promises made by the acting leadership.

Despite the fact that, according to the community, the municipality stated that a transformer was the cause of the extended electrical in a large area, which included Everest and Thusi Village, they failed to deliver the needed repairs and replacement in the timeframe promised. The municipality had relayed a message to the community that the transformer would be fixed a week prior to the date of the community protest. However, no action had been taken by the municipality at the time of the gathering. From behind barred entrance gates, the municipality provided a proof of payment for the equipment needed, and claimed that the transformer would be delivered on the same day 28 April 2022. However, residents were having none of it, claiming it's just more deception from the municipality.

Community leaders demanded to speak to one of the municipal leadership, of which none were to be found. The acting mayor, municipal manager and speaker were nowhere to be found, which further infuriated residents. Instead of a person in a leadership position stepping up and taking the rap, it was left to councillors and community leaders to convey messages to try and quell the fed-up community. Instead of municipal leaders taking charge of the situation and providing clarity on questions from the community, the municipality opted to bar the entrance to the municipality. Thousands of Rands in income had been lost, as residents who wished to pay their utility bills were turned away due municipal officials refusing to unlock the entrance gates. The security company employed by the municipality had blatantly refused to unlock the entrance, despite pleas from several councillors. With the acting mayor and municipal manager disappearing like needles in a haystack, Cllr Zulu was forced to step up to the plate, attempting to answer the questions set fort by the community. However, he could only provide limited answers, being an outsider himself, while municipal top brass allegedly take important decisions behind closed doors. The elected council is reportedly hampered around every corner, being excluded from important decisions which require a majority vote to pass. Community members also claim that the top structure at the municipality has laid off various long-time municipal employees to make way for friends, wives, girlfriends and more, who are reportedly wholly unqualified to perform their duties. Some of the alleged cadre employments do not, according to Mzwandile Zulu, possess a Grade 12 qualification. This is one of the fundamental requirements of employment, which is circumvented.

"The acting leadership should step down at Msukaligwa Local Municipality. There is no accountability in the municipality. First and foremost, they have been appointed to their positions without the mandate being followed. Protocol has been breached with their employment at the municipality, which flies directly in the face of what President Ramaphosa had said during the recent ANC election rally. Corruption is running rampant while the community suffers. The entire town is going to the dogs while the leadership at Msukaligwa fight for the political top positions. If you don't agree with the methods, you simply get removed without warning. The community needs selfless leadership, which adheres to the mandate set forth my the ANC. Instead, they are making up their own rules, and in so doing they violate the constitution and the rights of the community. How is this acceptable?" Mzwandile Zulu said. He also stated that the political power play within the municipality is bringing the municipality, services and everything surrounding it, to its knees. The decisions taking behind closed doors are negatively affecting the community and businesses of Msukaligwa. "How can a decision be taken when a large number of council members are not present to partake in the decision? Fourteen council members out of more than thirty were present, and major decisions have been taken which serve no purpose other than political power plays. Whenever there are questions to be answered, they run and hide in their offices. How can a municipality function if there is nobody in the office, as they claim? There is nobody to take responsibility for what is happening to our town. Look at the roads. Look at the business district. Look at the informal settlements. It is a disgrace. It is one acting official after the next acting official, of whom none have a stake in our community. They are brought in from outside locations and unconstitutionally and unlawfully placed in power positions, without being elected. President Ramaphosa has clearly stated the mandate and requirements to be elected, but a large number of power positions are filled by dropouts, who have friends in high places. A municipality cannot be run by friends and family who don't even have a Grade 12 qualification. Everyone is acting, but nobody steps up to take the blame for the failures,” he said with disdain.

The community has vowed to return, and demand that a complete cleanup of the municipality be put in order. Demands include that the acting troika step down, and that an internal investigation and audit be conducted within Msukaligwa Local Municipality to oust the political rot. You may view more photos and videos on our Facebook page, Tribune Ermelo.