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‘Heads must roll at Sol’

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A number of residents did however remark that they were receiving more units for their money since the new tariffs were introduced

Sol Plaatje executive mayor Mangaliso Matika

KIMBERLEY residents who staged a massive protest over high electricity tariffs are vowing to intensify protest action and are threatening to unseat Sol Plaatje executive mayor Mangaliso Matika, unless the municipal manager and the chief financial officer are removed from their posts.

The organisers of the march that took place last week handed over a letter of demand to the municipality yesterday, calling for the removal of the two municipal officials by tomorrow.

They were, however, informed that the mayor would be out of town over the next few days.

The municipality, in response to the calls for the resignations of the two officials, also indicated that it was governed by laws.

“We must request that any member of the public who has information on transgressions of the laws regulating their respective offices, that such information be brought forward for investigation and processing through due process.”

Manager in the Office of the Mayor, George Mosimane, explained that the new electricity tariffs had come into effect as from July 1, without the R260 basic levy.

“The 5.95% increase was incorporated in the new tariffs and were approved by Nersa.”

March organiser Pantsi Obusitse said that community members had given the municipality until today to respond to their grievances.

“If the two officials are not suspended with immediate effect, there will be another shutdown, where they (angry residents) will physically remove the mayor. We need credible officials who are doing their jobs properly. If the mayor is not available, he must make sure that there is someone who will respond to our grievances.”

He added that he had managed to prevent community members from shutting down the city yesterday.

“I advised them to give the municipality an opportunity to consult. The community is furious because they believe that they are not being taken seriously. We have been intervening in an attempt to resolve the matter but if they decide to take action, we will not be able to enforce crowd control.

“I am worried that it will not be an organised protest – where there may be incidents including vandalism, burning and looting – and we cannot accept any responsibility.”

Obusitse stated that the continued presence of the municipal manager and chief financial officer at the municipality would jeopardise the investigation regarding the unprocedural electricity tariff hike as well as the appointment of the public relations company that sent out confusing messages surrounding the R260 basic levy.

“The tender was never advertised. You cannot pay someone
R1.2 million for three days of work – to hand out pamphlets and send out messages on social media. First there was a R260 levy, then the pamphlets and messages said there was no R260 – only to find out that it was there all along. We do not want hidden costs. They keep on lying to us and we do not trust them.

“While the municipality continues to tell us that they don’t have money, there always seems to be money for salaries and increases at council.”

Obusitse denied that there was any political agenda to the campaign.

“We are not representing any faction. We have no ulterior motives and only have the interest of our people at heart.”

Speaking on behalf of residents who are against the high electricity tariffs, Tumelo Mosikare stated that they had called off renewed legal action against the municipality, for now, after an urgent interdict was dismissed in the Northern Cape High Court on Friday, as residents were now exempt from the R260 electricity levy.

“We do not want any hidden charges. Many residents are sceptical that the tariffs may change because council did indicate that it would need to mitigate the shortfall in the budget without the implementation of the electricity surcharge. We will be monitoring this closely because we will not tolerate any massive increase in rates and taxes, property taxes, or on sanitation and water.

“The mayor did propose that they would look towards imposing heavier traffic fines, reopening the weighbridge at Ritchie or installing parking metres in town in order to generate more income.”

Mosikare stated that even with the lower electricity tariffs, Sol Plaatje residents were still paying more for electricity than any other municipality in the country.

A number of residents did however remark that they were receiving more units for their money since the new tariffs were introduced.

Mosikare added that they were also calling for the resignation of the municipal manager and the chief financial officer, as was listed in their demands.

“As much as the municipality keeps on repeating that due processes need to be followed, due processes were never followed when the levy was decided upon. Had it not been for their interference, we would not have landed ourselves in all this trouble in the first place.”