EMLM intervention undermined, administrator’s progress reversed

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Xolile Nqatha asserted that the intervention provided to Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) was “illegally collapsed” by people who reversed the administrator’s work after he was chased away.

Nqatha was speaking to reporters at the Taking Parliament to the People in Komani, indicating the local authority was no longer under administration by default, following the removal of Vuyo Mlokothi from the position.

The decision to remove the administrator or extend his stay must be made by the provincial cabinet that placed him, after it has received his report. Mlokothi’s term ended before cabinet could conclude that process and the municipality had proceeded to appoint a municipal manager, Nokuthula Mgijima. Even in council meetings it was stated that the administrator’s term was until September 14.”

Nqatha said the work of the administrator succeeded at the beginning, but due to illegal strikes demanding Mlokothi’s sacking and non-cooperation, it later failed.

Many wrong things were committed after Mlokothi left and they reversed the progress he had achieved. The intervention was undermined by non-cooperation. The administration was illegally collapsed, that’s what took place here.”

Asked whether the recommendations in the administrator’s report would be implemented, Nqatha said an investigation into the municipality was recently concluded and would be tabled before council soon.

We are at a point where we are looking at the kind of support that can be provided to the municipality outside the administration and what would be the legal basis for such support. I cannot, at this stage, provide the contents of the investigation until it is tabled before council first.”

A report presented by Cogta portfolio committee chairman Thabo Matiwane indicated that the currently withheld equitable share for EMLM as an amalgamated municipality had declined from R174m in the former Lukhanji municipality, to R160m which, he said, was a contributing factor in the lack of service delivery in the area.

The departments of public works, health, education and agriculture owe the municipality millions each and this needs to be addressed. The salaries of employees in EMLM are at 40%, contrary to the 25% required by the national treasury,” said Matiwane.

He said the local authority was experiencing serious problems with regard to dilapidated infrastructure, especially roads and electricity.

On Tuesday, the Chris Hani South African Youth Council (Sayc) regional secretary Lusanda Mahashe asked transport, safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe, about a multi-million rand “yellow fleet” that was donated to the area after the sale of EMLM assets by auction last year.

Tikana blamed the instability at the local authority, saying the yellow fleet had not been handed over due to the municipality’s non-cooperation in the signing of a service level agreement.

Newvale resident Welile Oliphant said the 2021 municipal elections were approaching and ward committee members who had been leading communities for four years had nothing to show for it in terms of service delivery.

Closer to the election we will be told to campaign, but we have been asking for an increase in the R1000 stipend we receive, but that request has fallen on deaf ears. However, when there’s a looming service delivery protest, we are asked to smooth-talk residents out of it.”

Komani Residents Association (Kora) member Zolile Xhalisa threatened they would make EMLM ungovernable if provincial government failed to heed their call to remove corruption and nepotism.

EMLM councillors owe a combined R2.4m to the university of Fort Hare, according to Mlokothi’s report. He tried to stop them from registering at the institution, but they defied him and should personally pay their debt as recommended. They have also been employing their relatives and girlfriends at the expense of deserving local people.”

On Thursday, residents hoping to attend the provincial event were turned away from the gate due to their not having tags, which was initially not the case.

Residents were told they could only enter with their ward councilors and police were called to disperse the crow although some managed to get in when the gate was opened for taxis to enter.

This week, Eskom published a notice indicating its intention to interrupt the bulk electricity supply after EMLM failed to pay their current account and adhere to a debt payment agreement signed last year.

EMLM has failed to adhere to the terms and conditions of the agreement. The municipality does not pay its monthly account in full and the debt is growing by approximately R30m per month.”

The Rep reported (Mabuyane responds to Kora, October 18) that premier Oscar Mabuyane said the local authority owed Eskom close to R300m and had tried to intervene to save it, hence the changing of mayors, municipal managers, and the secondment of an administrator.

The intent to interrupt the power supply in EMLM is set for November 26. In the first week, electricity will be off from Monday to Friday from 6am to 9am and 5pm to 8.30pm. At weekends it will be off from 8.30am to 12 noon, and 3pm to 7pm.

In the second week power will be off the whole day, from 6am to 8pm including weekends.

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