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‘We will not back down’

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There is guarantee that the R31 would remain open to traffic.

Picture: Supllied

COMMUNITY members in Barkly West, who are dissatisfied with the local municipality’s response to their grievances, said yesterday that they would not be backing down following protest action in the CBD and at the four-way intersection between Mataleng and De Beershoogte earlier this week.

Independent councillor Mentley Bezuidenhout yesterday indicated that community members had shut down the Dikgatlong municipal offices since Tuesday.

“Central to the list of demands was the removal of the chief financial officer (CFO) and the mayor, who are still in office. The Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) is refusing to dissolve the municipality and there is no response to our request for a Section 106 investigation,” said Bezuidenhout.

He added that there was no guarantee that the R31 would remain open to traffic. “Protest action started on Tuesday, after the HOD for Coghsta delivered his response to the memorandum that was handed over last week. The police shot at the community on Wednesday. The community are still aggrieved, so they can return to the streets at any time.”

Police spokesperson, Captain Sergio Kock, said that about 150 protesters had allegedly forced a truck driver to off-load the manganese rock that he was transporting, onto the street in Barkly West on Tuesday.

“The manganese was removed from the parking lot of a local supermarket on Wednesday. No injuries have been reported and no arrests have been made as yet. The situation in Barkly West is currently calm. However, the police are still monitoring the situation,” said Kock.

The spokesperson for Coghsta, Xhanti Teki, stated that the MEC for Coghsta and Provincial Treasury would send a fact-finding team to Dikgatlong Municipality to investigate the issues raised by the community.

“They will report back to the provincial cabinet accordingly. The recommendation will be tabled to the executive council for decision making and council. Feedback will be given to the community in due course,” said Teki.

He added that the Department of Provincial Treasury and Coghsta had been monitoring the implementation of the financial recovery plan since November 2016.

“The outcome of the recovery plan will determine whether the municipality will still require support on the governance, financial and administration issues.”

Teki added that the removal of the mayor was the responsibility of the political party.

“The matter was referred to the relevant party for cognisance. The CFO is currently on special leave and any disciplinary action will be conducted after her maternity leave and the outcomes thereof will be communicated to the council and the community at large.”

He said the MEC would also meet with the mayor of Phokwane Municipality after the salaries of more than 76 employees were cut by up to half in the November salary run.

The employees claim that they are being targeted for supporting the suspended municipal manager and stated that they had not engaged in any strike action.

Teki pointed out that it was critical for municipalities to operate above party politics.

“The situation in Phokwane is not only concerning, but unacceptable. The tomfoolery over power whilst people are waiting for services is regressive to say the least. The MEC will meet the mayor in order to resolve this impasse.”