Snubbed for not wasting R133m

2014-04-27 15:01

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Emalahleni municipality was set to close multimillion-rand deal when council speaker began to raise questions over the cost of the purchase

The Mpumalanga government nearly spent R143.6?million on two farms valued at a total of just R10?million – and now the politician who stopped the purchase is in trouble with some of her colleagues.

The Emalahleni Local Municipality was going to buy the farms and use them for housing developments, but when Emalahleni council speaker Augustine Mkhwanazi questioned the price in full council and portfolio committee meetings, the deal was scrapped.

Three municipal sources told City Press Mkhwanazi was concerned about the inflation of the price of the farms and that no council resolution had been made to buy the land.

“ANC branches are being turned against her and some councillors gave distorted information to the SA Municipal Workers’ Union [Samwu], saying she was a stumbling block to the workers’ financial demands. When the unions got the right information, they understood,” said one source.

A Samwu official who declined to be named confirmed this.

“They also told some of the squatters who were going to benefit that she sabotaged the deal. No one in the council was against this transaction except Mkhwanazi,” another municipal source said.

“They’re trying everything to fire her after this deal failed.”

The deal was set to be finalised on February 28, according to a memorandum of agreement of purchase and sale, a copy of which City Press has seen.

Only Emalahleni’s administrator Theo Jansen van Vuuren’s signature was outstanding.

When one farm, Leeupoort, was last sold in 1993, it cost R218?500 and other farms in its vicinity sold by 2013 cost nothing more than R5.1?million.

The other, Tweedam, was last sold in 2007 and cost R456?000 at the time.

Provincial human settlements spokesperson Freddy Ngobe confirmed Emalahleni had asked the department to buy the land for a housing project.

Emalahleni spokesperson Lebohang Mofokeng said the deal stalled because negotiations could not be concluded.

Neither Ngobe nor Mofokeng would comment on the price inflation.

“Issues of design, bulk services as well as the valuation of the land took time to resolve and the developer withdrew the offer to sell,” Mofokeng said.

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