“The mayor and his team have been hiding the report from council with the hope that it never sees the light of day.”
SA MUNICIPAL Workers’ Union (Samwu) members are considering embarking on strike action to motivate for the removal of the mayor, municipal manager and director of corporate services at Umsobomvu Local Municipality, in line with the findings of an investigation report into allegations of corruption and maladministration at the local authority.
The EFF opened criminal charges against the mayor and municipal manager at the Colesberg police station on May 6.
Samwu regional secretary Peter Demas stated that they had met with their members from Colesberg, Norvalspont and Noupoort on Tuesday, May 11, to discuss pending strike action pertaining to the investigation report.
“Acts of corruption, fraud, maladministration and nepotism have been ongoing at the municipality for many years, while officials remain untouchable,” said Demas.
“Instead of addressing issues that were raised by the union and residents, the municipality embarked on a crusade to systematically suspend and dismiss whistle-blowers.
“Since the finalisation of the report and the letter issued by the MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta), directing the municipality to convene an urgent council meeting to table the report, the mayor and his team have been hiding the report from council with the hope that it never sees the light of day.”
Demas believed that the matters raised in the investigation report were but “a few instances” of corruption, fraud, maladministration and nepotism that were uncovered at the municipality.
“We are convinced that officials implicated in the report are in cahoots to protect each other.”
Demas added that Umsovombu Municipality should be dissolved and immediately placed under administration.
“The finding of the report has been read widely by the community. Almost everyone has seen the recommendations, it is neither confidential nor should it be kept secret from public scrutiny.
“Criminal charges must be laid against implicated officials and they must be placed on immediate suspension without pay. All irregular and unlawful expenditure incurred by the municipality as well as unlawful salary increases must be recouped from those who unduly benefited where senior managers were implicated in wrongdoing.“
He added that the services of the security company appointed by the municipality should be terminated as it had failed to protect municipal property.
“The security services of the municipality should be insourced.”
EFF provincial secretary Shadrack Thlaole indicated that they had opened charges of corruption, maladministration and nepotism against the Umsobomvu municipal manager and mayor last week.
“It is clear that no action will come out of the investigation report, especially with the upcoming local government elections. There is a recurring pattern and culture, where corruption is cultivated,” said Thlaole.
“Resources and money were wasted on Section 106 and Section 108 investigations conducted at Phokwane, Sol Plaatje and Dikgatlong municipalities, where the investigations are dormant and the findings were never implemented.
“By keeping silent we are condoning and promoting corruption. The rot at Umsobomvu Municipality runs deep, while officials who enriched themselves face no consequences.”
Thlaole added that they were prepared to make use of the Promotion of Access to Information Act if the report is not presented and tabled by council.
“If the incriminated officials who are facing serious charges are not prosecuted, we are prepared to go to the highest court to ensure that they are held accountable.”
The spokesperson for Umsobomvu Municipality, Siyabulelo Phololo, advised anyone who is in possession of the investigation report commissioned by the MEC for Coghsta and the premier to lay criminal charges with the local authorities.
“We don’t know about the report. The municipality is not aware of any criminal charges that were laid against any official. Officials only saw their names on social media, while they were not given an opportunity to respond to the allegations. The report that is in possession of the mayor is different to the one that was distributed on social media,” said Phololo.
He pointed out that no official could be removed on the grounds of “baseless allegations”.