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GAUTENG MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Lebogang Maile will appear before the parliament’s Select Committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation, and Human Settlements in a week’s time to account on the status of the intervention at the Emfuleni Local Municipality.

The decision was taken during an online meeting between the select committee, South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the DA in Gauteng’s National Council of Provinces (NCOP) member Dennis Ryder amongst others on Friday.

Maile was afforded a 30-minute opportunity together with the administrator to deal with some of the issues the embattled Emfuleni local municipality has been facing including explaining fully what the progress has been to date in respect of some of the majors taken in his provincial government.

Maile said some of the decisions taken in the municipality which led to a number of weaknesses date back to 2018.

“Due to last year’s elections including how the intervention was conducted, an administrator was appointed who at the same time was then appointed as an acting city manager,” said Maile.

However, the MEC also maintained that since 2018 there has been some progress at the ANC led municipality.

“There has been progress since 2018 but the municipality is not out of the woods. The municipality is still owing Eskom I think about R2 billion and Rand Water R600 million or so,” he said.

With a new administrator just a week in office, the select committee’s chairperson China Dodovu sought to know when exactly another administrator was elected since Maile had placed the municipality as a provincial government in June 13 2018. 

“Before a new administrator speaks, you need to give an account to us of what happened to the old administrator and what happened during that period,” Dodovu said.

Maile replied by saying that the new administrator was appointed two weeks back.

“We appointed an administrator and that administrator was made an acting city manager. When the city manager filled the post last year I think in December, he left because he was now operating like a city manager, he was never an administrator,” he revealed.

“Hence I’m saying it was done wrongly from the onset in 2018. Now the municipality has a city manager and then we brought the administrator,” he added.

The Emfuleni local municipality has been plagued by poor service delivery and inept management for years, with service delivery grinding to a halt as raw sewage flows into the Vaal river. Communities also allegedly sit without electricity for 4 to 5 days at a time.

The situation became so bad that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) had to be called in to assist with the unmanaged raw sewage flowing into the Vaal River, with the national government having had to channel additional funding into the area in order to stave off a major environmental and health disaster.

The finances of the municipality are also shambles and after two years of provincial administration, no material improvements have been reported.

During the meeting Maile’s response deflected blame and accountability and he was unable to respond to direct questions which fuelled Dodovu to tell Maile to leave and return with a better picture of the situation at the failed municipality.

As Maile became increasingly defensive, the chairperson stepped in and suggested that he limit his replies to generalities and revert with detail in a week’s time.

The DA in Emfuleni has repeatedly made calls for a more rigorous process, strongly voicing its dismay in 2018 when an acting municipal manager was in turn appointed as administrator, effectively changing only his title and leaving him to continue as he had before in spite of serious allegations against him.

The DA has consistently highlighted the service delivery failures and financial irregularities in the municipality.

“The picture presented was not well received by the members of parliament across party lines, especially after Maile’s account was exposed as wholly inadequate by SALGA, which raised serious and legitimate concerns around the conduct of the Gauteng COGTA department to date as well as their proposed future actions,” said Ryder.

Rdyer also said the opposition party will use its opportunity when the MEC returns to appear before the committee to insist on a realistic, effective and workable solution to turn around the Emfuleni local municipality to ensure that the residents can enjoy the services delivery that they pay for.

(Source: Mukurukuru Media)

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