Mooi-Mpofana ‘held hostage’

2017-03-20 14:47
Residents want 'election promise' of free electricity.

Residents want 'election promise' of free electricity. (File/Jonathan Burton )

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Mooi-Mpofana Municipality is on the brink of collapse, a source has warned.

Services at the municipality have almost ground to a halt amid service delivery protests in Bruntville that have been raging for the past two weeks.

However, behind the strike is a concentrated effort by “hooligans” to hold the municipality “hostage”, the source claims.

The insider, who asked not to be named, said the municipality, which had received a disclaimer from the auditor-general (AG), is being poorly run by Mayor Xolani Duma and those close to him.

The municipality owes Eskom a whopping R30 million and is battling to contain illegal connections.

Protesters are now demanding free electricity.

They said Duma, during his election campaign, had promised them free electricity, an allegation Duma has denied.

Senior managers in the municipality were now fearing for their lives as they are being consistently threatened by community members, the source said.

People were also now not willing to work in the municipality, The Witness was told.

The municipality has not had a chief financial officer since Simo Mncwabe resigned in June last year.

He had resigned after his life was threatened and he was shot dead a day after his hasty departure from the municipality.

The municipality also has two critical senior posts in its supply chain management division that have been vacant for a long time.

The source described how they had scrambled to put together reports for the AG.

Provincial Treasury had to send three employees to help the municipality.

When the contract ended, one employee had remained behind, however, the community chased that employee away, the source said.

“The truth is that the municipality is being held hostage and heartlessly thrown into a state of anarchy and mediocrity by those whose agenda is to divide the community and to manipulate the situation for their own malicious objectives.”

Duma denied telling community members they would not pay for electricity when he was in power.

He said his campaign had been based on an ANC manifesto, which says indigent households should receive free electricity.

He confirmed that he was staying in an RDP house, a government low-cost home meant for the poor.

“My wife got it before I was even a councillor,” he said.

ANC provincial spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli said regional leaders will go into the area to establish the concerns of protestors.

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed that no protests were reported yesterday and on Saturday. However, a source said the protests would probably continue today.

Maggie Mothebe said on behalf of the N3 Toll Concession that there was no significant damage to the N3 that was caused by the protesters. “I am also not aware of any complaints from motorists,” Mothebe said.

Acting MEC for Cogta Bongi Sithole-Moloi condemned the ongoing protest.

She appealed to protesters to desist from engaging in violent acts including stoning of vehicles along the N3 highway.

“As the provincial government, we are concerned about this state of affairs. We are urging all those protesting to follow the correct channels in raising their grievances.

“Our government has an open-door policy and subscribes to the rule of law. There is no reason for people to resort to violence in order to have their demands met. Our law enforcement agencies should be vigilant and deal with all those undermining the rule of law and freedoms of other people,” said Sithole-Moloi. 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  mooi river protests

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