Home News Councillor to be sworn in, refuses to step down from municipal post

Councillor to be sworn in, refuses to step down from municipal post

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Meanwhile, pickets have been taking place outside the municipality in protest against the alleged intimidation and victimisation of whistle-blowers.

A PROPORTIONAL representative councillor representing the Umsobomvu Residents Association (URA) will be sworn in at Umsobomvu Municipality next week although he is refusing to step down from his job at the municipality.

The Umsobomvu Residents Association is the official opposition to the ANC at Umsobomvu Municipality after winning 29.29 percent of the vote, with four seats in council.

Pickets have meanwhile been taking place outside the municipality this week in protest against the alleged intimidation and victimisation of municipal officials and whistle-blowers.

An interdict was obtained to prevent the implementation of the findings of a forensic investigation report into allegations of fraud, corruption and mismanagement at the municipality, where senior officials were implicated.

The report was commissioned by the Northern Cape Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs and the Premier’s Office following widespread protests in Colesberg last year.

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) stated that its members were being targeted by management at Umsobomvu Municipality.

“Whistle-blowers are being silenced for waging a war against corruption at the municipality.”

Samwu provincial secretary Lawrence Fennie said that the report uncovered rampant nepotism, mismanagement of municipal funds and contravention of supply chain management processes.

“The investigation uncovered serious acts of maladministration, malfeasance, fraud and total disregard for the institution’s policies,” said Fennie.

“The report vindicated the union on the calls made that action should be taken against individuals who abused municipal resources to benefit themselves, their cronies and family members.”

Fennie claimed that, following the release of the report, municipal management had launched a witch-hunt, targeting employees who blew the lid on rampant corruption, fraud and maladministration at the municipality.

“Management falsely charged workers for participating in the formation of the Umsobomvu Residents Associations that contested the local government elections. This is a clear violation of workers’ constitutional rights and the Labour Relations Act.

“We will not sit back and be spectators while workers are persecuted for exposing the shenanigans of the municipal management. Municipalities must be free from corruption, nepotism and maladministration and we encourage our members to continue exposing corruption when they see it in municipalities.”

Fennie pointed out that corruption resulted in “devastating consequences” for service delivery.

“We are ready as a union to defend the rights of our whistle-blowers. By seeking to silence whistle-blowers and protect perpetrators of fraud and corruption in the municipality, the Umsobomvu Local Municipality has declared war against Samwu – a war that we will fight to the bitter end.”

The secretary of the URA, Abongwe Poyo, said that the Electoral Commission (IEC) did not permit the list of councillors that were submitted before the local government elections to be altered.

“Councillors may decline the position if they prefer to remain employed by the state. The councillor will be inaugurated next week and will then resign and be replaced within the next 21 days after a vacancy has been declared. It will not be necessary to hold a by-election as it is a PR councillor position,” said Poyo.

“There is no crisis, we have a replacement councillor in mind.”

He added that officials who left the ANC to join the URA, as well as URA members, were being targeted and bullied.

“Management is trying to purge and deal with anyone who supports the URA before the new council is sworn in. The movement is considered to be a huge threat because we have a huge following.”

Poyo pointed out that they were staging peaceful pickets outside the municipality until the inauguration was held, to voice their concerns.

“No one is prevented from entering the municipality or doing their jobs. The inauguration was postponed until Monday next week, apparently due to security concerns.”

He added that the URA was falsely accused of depositing buckets of faeces inside the municipal offices.

“I can assure you that no URA member did anything like that, we are disciplined and have high moral standards. We are being framed by agent provocateurs of the ANC.”

Poyo added that they had tried to meet with the municipal manager on several occasions to iron out their differences amicably.

“We even requested the police to facilitate a meeting, but the municipal manager refused and informed us that he would meet us in court. We advised him that this would amount to a waste of council resources, whereas we could find a common ground outside of court.”

Umsobomvu Municipality spokesperson Siyabulela Phololo stated that it was nothing but a “blatant lie” that whistle-blowers were being intimidated.

“A whistle-blower is someone who offers information or evidence and whose identity is concealed. All information in relation to the forensic audit was obtained directly from the municipality,” said Phololo.

He added that the fracas revolved around a URA PR councillor who refused to resign from his position at Umsobomvu Municipality.

“It is mandatory for councillors to resign from their employment in government or the municipality before they take office. There is a difference in the remuneration as an ordinary councillor earns less than a section head.”

Phololo pointed out that the councillors would be sworn in according to the IEC list.

“We cannot wait for the councillor to resign. The URA councillor will be inaugurated on Monday.”

He stated that the mayor, Speaker and chief whip would be chosen at the same council meeting.

“Each political party will nominate their mayoral candidate and the person who receives the most votes will be elected as the mayor.”

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