The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Dr Zweli Mkhize, visited Govan Mbeki municipality 31 August 2018 as part of his national programme to provide support to distressed and dysfunctional municipalities.
The local media was kept in the dark by the leadership of GMM as no media invitations or any communications to the Bulletin and Ses’khona news was communicated.
The council meeting scheduled for Friday was moved from the usual timeslot of 11H00 to 12H00 to accommodate the minister’s visit. The visit was planned long before but the local media was shunned once again.
The Minister was accompanied by Deputy Minister Andries Nel as well as MEC Speedy Mashilo. There was also a very large entourage of dignitaries that accompanied the minister.
Friday morning saw the Minister having breakfast at Sasol club. The Bulletin obtained information that the Minister and the Mayor of GMM, Cllr Thandiwe Nxgonono, used the opportunity to solicit help from Sasol to curb the spiralling debts of GMM.
“We are pleased that Sasol is willing to help the GMM community and while this could help the financial woes of GMM it will surely not eradicate the maladministration and corruption that plagues this municipality,” says FF+ Cllr Deon de Vries. “Sasol should stop funding the mistakes of the ANC especially so close to elections. The ANC will use this financial injection (if any) to further their election campaign.”
The entourage then proceeded to eMbalenhle, Mandela section. Minister Mkhize did a walkabout on one street. It was ironic that when the motorcade stopped he had to disembark from his vehicle and avoid a stream of concentrated sewage. The street that he walked along also had a stream of sewage flowing down the street.
Here MEC Mashilo, as well as Minister Mkhize, took the opportunity to turn the visit into a political campaigning session when they explained to a resident that she should not vote DA but should only vote ANC.
The group then proceeded to the Clinic area for a quick last visit before speeding off towards their next stop, Lekwa.
The Bulletin can only speculate as to the real purpose for the Minister’s visit. Surely a proper investigation or fact-finding mission cannot be done in two quick stops or was the main purpose to solicit help from Sasol?
In an earlier press statement from COGTA (Cooperative Governance Traditional Affairs) the following was stated: “The Minister will also meet with other stakeholders including businesses during the visit as part of promoting cooperation and partnerships in the spirit of working together to move South Africa forward so as to fix local government, under the theme: “Local Government is Everybody’s Business”.
The following municipalities have been identified as distressed or dysfunctional in the province:
• Thaba Tshweu Local Municipality (Lydenburg)
• Govan Mbeki Local Municipality
• Lekwa Local Municipality (Standerton)
• Emalahleni Local Municipality (Witbank)
• Msukaligwa Local Municipality. (Ermelo)
The challenges in affected Mpumalanga municipalities relate to governance and financial management, service delivery failures and also debts owed to Eskom and water boards.
In an earlier press statement James Masango MPL and DA Spokesperson on CoGTA said the following, “The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize’s planned visit to five “distressed” municipalities in Mpumalanga is little more than an ANC roadshow designed to hide maladministration at a local governance level while campaigning for the 2019 general elections.”
Issues affecting municipalities require decisive action and not just talk shops” said James, “The DA has for years highlighted the severity of the sewage spills in Govan Mbeki, Lekwa and Msukaligwa local municipalities where people have lived for many years with raw sewage flowing in front of their homes while also polluting the Vaal River.”
The DA has opened multiple cases with the South African Police Service and currently have the Human Rights Commission investigating the gross violation of human rights in these areas.
In eMalahleni, the DA has repeatedly highlighted the severe financial mismanagement that has resulted in the municipality owing Eskom more than R2 billion while losing 42.89% of its electricity income due to its dysfunctional billing system.
Thaba Chweu Municipality is one of the worst performing municipalities in the country with 10 consecutive disclaimers from the Auditor-General caused by blatant corruption and intense ANC infighting. Service delivery in Thaba Chweu has completely collapsed along with the municipality’s road infrastructure.
Provincial CoGTA MEC, Speedy Mashilo, recently confirmed during the SALGA Mpumalanga Provincial Members Assembly and during a portfolio committee meeting that these five municipalities would be placed under administration, but it would seem that the ANC has backtracked from this in order to keep municipal coffers open to fund their election campaign.
“These five municipalities must urgently be placed under administration, this can then be followed with turnaround strategies that are implemented and monitored until the situation changes. Until then, no amount of talking will help the people of Mpumalanga who were robbed in broad daylight by the David Mabuza administration,” continued James, “Only a DA government can bring change to Mpumalanga because we are the only political party with a proven track record everywhere we govern.”
The Bulletin has repeatedly reported on the financial problems in GMM as well as the calls for high-level interference. The spiralling debt has now reached such levels that GMM cannot solve the problem without help. It would appear that Nxgonono only knows how to contact Sasol for help and cannot run her own administration.
Addressing the Mayors and Councillors gathered at the Ehlanzeni Council Chambers in City of Mbombela, on Thursday 30 August, Minister Zweli Mkhize said apart from financial management and good governance, it was important that residents received quality services from their municipalities.
“The number of protests within the province has been of great concern. It’s clear that there is a breakdown in communication between the community and municipalities.”
“Municipal managers must have recovery plans which will enable all municipalities to manage its debts, these plans must be approved by the end of September 2018,” said Minister Mkhize.
Will GMM lie to the minister again, as they did when they were summoned to Cape Town when they submit these plans? At the appearance in Cape Town, they stated that the budget was approved when indeed it was not.
Residents are absolutely tired of empty promises, self-enriching schemes and poor service delivery!