by Andrew Louw – DA Northern Cape Provincial Leader
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Date: 02 October 2018
The Democratic Alliance in the Northern Cape is calling on the MEC of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (COGHSTA), Bentley Vass, to urgently intervene in the growing municipal crisis at Phokwane Municipality, where internal political battles have brought the municipality to a standstill, collapsing the roll-out of much-needed service delivery.
This comes after ANC factions interfered in a council decision, taken during a special meeting on Sunday, to place the Municipal Manager, Matshidisho Mogale, on suspension. Mogale implemented a raise in her salary without following due process or tabling her salary adjustment before council.
The DA is of the firm view that the suspension must be implemented pending a thorough investigation into the matter. This is of critical importance because Mogale is increasingly acting as a law unto herself.
Mogale has on numerous occasions withheld financial information from council. To date, councillors still do not know what happened to the equitable share allocation of R39 million, despite having requested a detailed breakdown hereof.
Under Mogale, Phokwane’s debt has also spiralled out of control.
Just last week, the DA requested Vass to implement Section 139 of the Constitution to provide for an interventionist measure to be put in place which will in turn allow for a financial recovery plan, failing which, will see the municipality placed under administration.
This came amidst a complete failure by the municipality to honour debt payments totalling millions of rands, which saw residents experience load shedding for over a week before a payment arrangement with Eskom was agreed upon. The municipality is believed to owe Eskom in the region of at least R38 million.
On top of this, the municipality owes Vaalharts and Sedibeng Water close to R90 million.
The DA suspects that Mogale may have bailed the municipality out with grant money. This, however, is not only against the law but is also unsustainable and it is questionable whether come the end of October, Phokwane will have money to pay its next debt instalments, let alone its salaries.
It is evident that under Mogale, Phokwane municipality is on its knees.
It is a great pity that Mogale’s first suspension by council was also withdrawn following involvement from the ANC Regional Executive committee. If they had let consequent management go ahead then maybe the municipality would find itself in a better place today.
The DA will write to MEC Vass to intervene and ensure that Mogale is held accountable to council for failing to transparently manage the municipality’s finances, regardless of ANC interference.
Residents of Jan Kempdorp, Hartswater, Pampierstad and the surrounds should not have to suffer a breakdown of municipal services as a result of the failing ANC’s inability to toe the line with errant cadres.
Only change under a DA-led government will ensure that budgets are allocated in a transparent and efficient manner that promotes uninterrupted service delivery for all.