The civic organization submitted a memorandum of demands which included the disbandment of the ANC regional executive, which they indicated was at the centre of illegalities at the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM).
Two months later, and after continual correspondences to the office of the premier (OTP) calling for his response to the petition and intervention on matters concerning EMLM, he came to address members of the community most of whom were affiliated to Kora.
Some of the issues Mabuyane responded to were in connection with the release of the long-awaited housing commission report, access to housing and youth unemployment, which Kora said was also fueled by the employment of people from outside the local authority at the expense of locals.
Kora also called for an end to flawed awarding of tenders, lack of service delivery and improved economic development, among others.
Responding to the concerns, Mabuyane said he understood that some of the issues facing Enoch Mgijima were as a result of the 2016 amalgamation of the three erstwhile municipalities, and that there were four others in the province which had similar problems due to the mergers.
Addressing the service delivery issue, the premier said if a municipality failed to provide water, electricity and to repair worn out roads, it meant the institution was no longer a municipality.
“This municipality currently owes close to R300m to Eskom and we have tried to intervene to save it – hence the changing of mayors, municipal managers and the secondment of an administrator.”
Pertaining to the disbandment of the ANC regional executive, Mabuyane cautioned people who jumped from one political party to another when they did not get their way and made frivolous demands on the ANC.
“Anyone with issues on the leadership of the ANC must attend the party’s conference and contest for a position like everyone else. Failing which, they can contact an ANC branch and lay complaints there. However, when the ANC is infighting the people should not suffer.”
Mabuyane said the memorandum contained allegations that needed to be thoroughly investigated so that corrective measures could be taken and those found to have done wrong be brought to book.
“The housing commission report should have been tabled a long ago time at council because I instructed the mayor to do so. Regarding the employment of outsiders in the municipality, I can tell you now for a fact that 60% of the managers there are from this area.”
Mabuyane said EMLM had endured some crippling events, some of which led to the sale of the municipal fleet which, he said, also contributed to delayed service delivery.
Kora member Zolile Xhalisa said he knew the premier only responded to the petition now to “massage” people before the Taking Parliament to the People provincial event, set for next week.
“That the leadership of this municipality does not engage the community is problematic. Ward four and five have a problem with councillors who do not hold community meetings or at least attend to issues concerning residents.
“We want all those implicated in the housing commission report for illegally giving houses to their preferred people to be brought to book, hence we call for its release. Premier, we know you are here to massage us prior to next week because you did the same thing during the Executive Council (Exco) visit to this area. You said you would send a representative on your behalf, but that person did not come. We are resolute in what we want and will not be deterred until we see change for the better.”
Let’s Talk Komani chairman Ken Clark said the local authority’s leadership and management were illegitimate and requested the premier to dissolve the municipality so that capable people could govern.
Thuthuzelo Jeki said the premier should not be under the impression that people were looking for positions in the ANC when they raised legitimate and evident concerns about the municipality.
“We are used to lip service, government officials often visit, promising to do things. The only thing that will assist this municipality is if the recommendations in the administrator’s report were to be implemented.”
Another resident, Mnqophiso Naye, said there were ANC members and municipal officials living in a complex who were not paying rates and services.
“We have also seen people get employment without the vacancies being advertised. I often attend council meetings and I know it was once resolved that there should not be any more appointments until the local authority had recovered from bankruptcy.”
Kora member Thulani Bukani wanted to know how far the municipality was in implementing the administrator’s recommendations in the report, indicating it concerned millions of rands that were misused and must be recovered.
EMLM mayor Luleka Gubula said the housing commission had not been concluded as the committee which ran it had not completed the task of interviewing everyone involved.