Umdoni Municipality held its first media briefing for many years, on Tuesday, July 17, at which Mayor Dube answered questions and issued the following press statement:- Umdoni Municipality recently experienced a series of unprecedented community protests which occurred during the months of May and June.
It is highly regrettable that communities were inconvenienced during these public protests.
While the municipality supports the right of communities to protest, the destruction of public property is of concern. When infrastructure is destroyed, Local Government must bear the costs of repairing or replacing it, consuming financial resources that could best be expended on existing service delivery.
A group of community members from Amandawe marched to the municipal office on May 30 where the group handed over a memorandum of grievances to the municipality. After consideration of the issues mentioned in the memorandum, the municipality immediately made attempts to meet the leaders of the march so as to provide adequate responses to the issues raised, but to the municipality’s dismay, this request was met with demands which were not contained in the memorandum.
In seeking a resolution to the impasse, the leadership of the municipality initiated an engagement with a provincial delegation from COGTA, which was led by the Honourable MEC, Weziwe Thusi, where a detailed report of the events was presented.
This was followed by various engagements with other interested parties including the leaders of the community and the unions. It must be noted that the municipality had suspended the former municipal manager pending an investigation into certain allegations that were levelled against him.
The municipality then requested the intervention of COGTA to conduct an investigation, after which recommendations were presented to Council for consideration. After Council had considered the COGTA Report, it then resolved to implement the following measures:
• The establishment of a Municipal Rapid Response Team to deal with any communit- related issues.
• The immediate suspension of the General Manager Technical Services and the Genetral Manager Corporate Services pending investigations into the allegations levelled against them.
• The prioritisation of filling of the vacant position of Youth Manager.
• The conclusion of a meeting with the NNK contractor, which sets out new timelines for the completion of the Gqolweni Road.
In conclusion, the municipality would like to state categorically that it will continue to engage with the communities of Umdoni on issues pertaining to service delivery and other issues that compromise the well-being of all citizens.
It was unfortunate that a sector of the community felt that marching was the last resort, when the municipality prides itself on its “open door” policy.
The full Council of Umdoni Municipality commits itself, as per the oath taken, to a better life for all citizens.
Questioned by the Rising Sun journalist on filling the posts of the suspended managers, Mayor Dube responded that COGTA had been notified and that secondments from COGTA had been suggested.
The impact on accountability and continuity as a result of various persons acting in a key post such as that of municipal manager, a position that has been vacant for more than a year, was also raised.
The mayor responded that Council was now at the stage where interviews with potential candidates were to be conducted. In consultation with Council’s lawyers, charges would be brought against the suspended officials. In response to other questions, the mayor stated that no charges have been preferred at this stage against the previous MM, Xolani Luthuli. It was hearsay that another protest by the Amandawe community was looming.
The latest developments are that at a Special Council Meeting, held on Thursday, July 19 , the secondment of two person from COGTA, to fill the vacant positions of the suspended general managers, were confirmed.
Mr Mandlenkosi Shange will act as General Manager Corporate Services and Mr Bright Khumalo will act as General Manager Technical Services.