Council agenda shortened

To any ordinary resident, electricity does not necessarily simply mean that one can see, because the lights are on. It means food for your children, it means warmth in the winter, it means safety and security.

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Council meeting held 30 July. Councillors were facing a daunting task during the last council meeting. With an agenda of around 1400 pages and numerous items, it looked certain that the council meeting would continue late into the night. There were more than 33 items on the agenda. Councillors had to deliberate on items such as Risk management policies, Implementation of resolutions, Accepted Motions, replacement of the Mayoral car, Audit reports and Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) reports.
A late item regarding extra oversite committees was also tabled.
Fortunately, for the councillors, several items were withdrawn. Opposition parties did not approve of this. Some of the items should have been discussed at length. Items such as the Motions submitted in January should have been discussed.
One such motion was a motion accepted by the council that was submitted by Councillor Ciska Jordaan. This Motion, Motion 7 of 2018, sought to finalise the handover of the Govan Mbeki Municipality’s electricity licence to ESKOM by December 2018 and to consult the public continuously on the process. This motion intended to ensure that promises made by the Premier, Refilwe Mtsweni, following service delivery protests in eMbalenhle in 2018, were kept.
“Residents of eMbalenhle have been faced with an electricity crisis for over a year, experiencing interrupted supply of electricity enduring lights that are off for more hours in a day than they are on.” Says Ciska Jordaan, DA Caucus leader, “Yet, unfortunately, political instability within the ANC was the only thing that could get the premier to our doorstep.”
Councillor Jordaan said in a press release: “There was hope at first when an ad hoc committee of the council was established, however, this committee ended up dealing solely with the appointment of a contractor that would be paid millions for a project to reroute electricity. At one stage, public participation was considered as required by the motion, however, the final response appears to avoid this by referring to ambiguous sections of the terms of reference of the said committee.
Furthermore, the mayoral committee continues to emphasise the impossibility of handing over electricity by the end of December 2018 as the motion had sought, quoting that the decision of the council to do this was taken on 29 June 2018 and that legislation requires the regulator to receive at least 12 months’ notice in writing. By the 30 July, the day of the council meeting, a year had elapsed from the initial council resolution which undertook the mandate of relinquishing the municipality’s electricity license. The ad hoc committee had been unable to give the DA or the Council any constructive progress report concerning handing electricity to ESKOM.
To any ordinary resident, electricity does not necessarily simply mean that one can see, because the lights are on. It means food for your children, it means warmth in the winter, it means safety and security. The desperate living circumstances endured by the residents of eMbalenhle appear to be unseen by the ANC-led Govan Mbeki municipality since the council had not given thorough consideration and prioritisation of the motion that was submitted by the DA.
The Democratic Alliance will continue to insist that electricity is a matter of grave concern to the residents of eMbalenhle that are failed by this ANC-led council. The reasons for the withdrawal of several items were not communicated to the rest of the council. There was also the issue of the mayoral vehicle that opposition parties were waiting for. The item was withdrawn, but not before the information leaked that the proposal would be to purchase a R 2,181m vehicle. This is despite the instructions of the minister that there should be a
R 700 000 limit on mayoral cars.
Some of these included a motion that was submitted by DA Caucus Leader, Cllr Ciska Jordaan, to expedite the process of relinquishing the municipality’s electricity distribution license and handing the function to ESKOM; as well as a motion that was submitted by former Cllr Marietjie Fourie regarding continuous irregular removal of refuse.
What is disappointing is that while these motions intended to enforce speedy delivery of services and good financial governance, they were continuously brushed off by the ANC-led executive and responded to negatively. This, despite the municipality being one of the highest debtors to ESKOM and being one of the top ten municipalities with exorbitant numbers of irregular and wasteful expenditure in the country.
Regardless of more than a Billion Rand of debt towards ESKOM and other service providers and the above mentioned factors, the council had opted to establish 5 additional impractical committees all in only one meeting to the astonishment of the Democratic Alliance, who has opposed the establishment of these committees, the ANC-led council had appointed 5 additional chairpersons to these committees. It should be known that chairpersons to such committees receive a significant salary increment in comparison with the average part-time councillor.
To no surprise, the uncaring ANC had once again chosen to promote comrades unto the gravy train rather than taking serious cognisance of the state of affairs of the debt-ridden Govan Mbeki Municipality. The DA will continue to drive the motions that we have submitted to the council with the utmost attempt to hold the ANC accountable and with the hope that residents realise this when they step into the voting booth once again in 2021 and vote for their Local Government representation.“
It is clear that the political leadership is not in control of the municipality and that the spiralling debt continues to grow month by month. It would also appear that there is no will to solve the problems of GMM and that political leadership is hoping for a rescue package from somewhere.

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