Municipality resists provincial govt intervention in court

2014-05-25 06:00

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A provincial department and a municipality are expected to face off in court again this week after an administrator was prevented from entering council offices this past week.

Police had to be called in after an administrator, who was supposed to take over the reins at Mogalakwena, was locked out of the council building. The council went on to obtain an interdict against Limpopo’s department of cooperative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs (CoGHSTA), barring the administrator from assuming control of the municipality.

Municipal manager William Kekana blames the Limpopo provincial government for “trying to destroy a municipality, which is enjoying good financial health while failing to intervene in the worst performing municipalities where their facilitation is much needed”.

He claims roads would have been tarred and water projects completed had it not been for the showdown between the municipality and the provincial government.

CoGHSTA recently placed Mogalakwena under administration, citing infighting, instability and financial mismanagement as serious challenges. But Kekana said this intervention could have rather benefited municipalities where it is badly needed.

Kekana said CoGHSTA was imposing an administrator on them.

CoGHSTA spokesperson Motupa Selomo pointed to, among other things, the findings of the Auditor-General, which had uncovered irregular expenditure of almost R40 million as well as unauthorised expenditure of about R30 million.

Selomo said Mogalakwena had also underspent by more than R80 million amid instability in the council, which resulted in service delivery taking a hard knock.

“There are serious challenges in Mogalakwena as well as poor planning and infighting, which have delayed the awarding of tenders. They are now undermining a constitutional decision by barring an administrator from entering the council offices,” he said.

Mogalakwena is the municipality that previously had a mayor, Tlhalefi Mashamaite, who had up to 30 heavily armed bodyguards, acquired using the council’s name.

When the mayor’s guards prevented Kekana from entering his office, the latter went on to acquire two bodyguards to protect him against Mashamaite’s guards.

The two were at loggerheads over financial control of the council. In the end, a damming forensic audit report accused the mayor of tapping into council coffers. Mashamaite has since been removed from his position by the council.

Kekana said the Limpopo government failed to intervene at the time when Mashamaite was still at the helm, and accused government of protecting him.

“CoGHSTA want us to look bad while they are failing to intervene in [the] worst situations at badly performing municipalities. There has been stability since Mashamaite was removed and the only instability happens when CoGHSTA is on site,” Kekana said.

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