The debris of burnt tyres, tree logs and uncollected rubbish scattered in Komani streets due to municipal workers in defiance of the return of the administrator, Vuyo Mlokothi, has been the talk of the town this week.
The dirty streets of Komani are the result of Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) workers and members of the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) who downed tools this week, stating they were against the reintroduction of Mlokothi by cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC, Xolile Nqatha.
Nqatha met with the local authority’s council last Friday to reinstall Mlokothi as the administrator through section 139 (1) (a) of the constitution, and reportedly threatened dissolution if he was not welcomed.
This after Mlokothi had stopped reporting for duty due to his “life being in danger” following him being forcefully removed from office by workers earlier this year.
The unprecedented turn of events saw Samwu members taking to the streets, burning tyres and scattering rubbish in the middle of the road hindering traffic flow and halting services at the municipality.
In Mlungisi, streets were barricaded with rocks and other material by a group of young people who claimed they were in protest due to lack of jobs.
However, according to information reported to The Rep by a source who wanted to remain anonymous, he said the youth were paid R100 each to cause disruption in defiance of Mlokothi.
Samwu secretary in Enoch Mgijima, Thabo Ngwane, said the organisation felt betrayed by council which yielded to Nqatha’s advances after he threatened to dissolve the municipality.
“We were not consulted as a stakeholder of the municipality. Everyone seems to follow the trend of imposing decisions of us. The administrators’ terms of reference which include him implementing cost containment measures seem to focus on workers alone in terms of benefits and absorption of contract workers. We no longer want intervention in terms of section 139, but we call for the invocation of section 154 which will make provision for senior managers and the acting municipal manager to mobilise resources for the municipality.”
Ngwane said they had requested a report from Mlokothi to detail his achievements after they learned his contract had been renewed with the municipality without consultation.
“We still have not received that report because he has done nothing for this municipality. The management has been working on its own since his departure and we can actually see some progress. He only has two more months to do work and what will he achieve in that period? What is it about him that will allow the MEC to put the people of Enoch Mgijima in jeopardy because of one man?” he asked.
Ngwane said management had also said they did not want Mlokothi and therefore services would be halted until he was removed.
EMLM mayor Luleka Gubula said Mlokothi was not returning alone, but with a team to assist in key areas of the local authority mainly focused on finances.
“The administrator and his team will help improve the municipality with his finance recovery plan which will lead to service delivery. His return will immensely assist in improving the municipality, but first the MEC will meet with the provincial leadership of Samwu to discuss matters of concern from the local leadership. The administrator and his team will work with our officials, they are not here to take anyone’s job, but to unite in improving our ailing municipality.”
Cogta spokesperson Mamnkeli Ngam said the intervention via Mlokothi was in full swing and that if there were people disrupting services in the municipality, the law needed to take its course.
“If there is anyone who has a problem with the administrator and his decision, the MEC has an open-door policy for those wanting to engage with him. The community of Enoch Mgijima cannot be held to ransom by people who do not have valid reasons why they do not want Mlokothi. How was he expected to fully conduct his duties when he was threatened, which resulted in him leaving office. The priority here should be the people and the mayor needs to do what she can to ensure services resume soonest.”