A mayoral mess

2010-02-19 00:00

IT is high time that those who are really responsible for our municipality’s poor financial position are identified and exposed. The mayor, Zanele Hlatswayo, supported by African National Congress councillors on the Executive Committee, has spent millions extravagantly and irregularly. Using their majority vote, they ride roughshod over any opposition to their proposals by opposition councillors and officials­.

Last year, the mayor spent R13 million on events and projects, which included a trip to the United States. Despite being told there was no budget for the trip, the ANC Exco members pushed it through. Authority was given for four people to go to Atlanta­. Hlatswayo went to Washington for Barak Obama’s inauguration, a trip that was not authorised, thereby incurring unauthorised expenditure.

A report on the trip queried who J. Johnson was, who appears to have been the fourth passenger. She was neither a councillor nor was she employed by the municipality. The cost for this fourth passenger was R120 000.

We have also not been informed whether they all travelled business class, as only the mayor has that privilege. To date we have not been told. This is scandalous and explains why the mayor has refused for more than a year to submit a report on the trip.

Most of the blame for our dire financial state can be squarely placed on the ANC Exco councillors, who use their majority vote to pass irrational and irregular expenditure, e.g. R250 000 for a soccer tournament.

We would also like to know in what tangible way this municipality has benefited from the mayor’s trips to China, Korea, etc. She is obliged to give written reports to Exco for all the travelling and events, but defies her own executive and does not deign to submit any reports.

Undeterred by the daily barrage of negative press on the running of the municipality, she continues to use public funds extravagantly this year. Our mid-year review reveals that, in just six months, she has spent her entire 12-month budget, including a staggering R3,9 million in December alone. Of that, close to R1 million was spent on a Christmas Party for the elderly and R2,4 million on hastily planned and poorly attended imbizos. Even ANC councillors did not attend these imbizos.

It beggars belief that this profligate spending does not end — she has requested a further R13 million for the next five months. The only thing stopping the ANC Exco members from bulldozing that through is a very bare cupboard.

In January I tabled a motion of no confidence in the mayor, which was defeated. Many of the ANC councillors were in favour of the motion but, having forced the issue to a vote, the ANC’s idea of a secret vote was to write your name on the ballot. How secret can you be? Needless to say, no ANC member was going to place his or her head on the political block, so the motion was defeated.

We are still awaiting an answer to the accident involving the mayoral car, despite being told publicly that Exco would be fully informed the following day. It’s a mystery as to why this could not be divulged at the full Council meeting.

Due to a long-standing arrangement I will not be attending this month’s Council meeting, but am determined that the public be made aware that it is under the leadership of this mayor and her Exco councillors that this once proud, clean and well-run city is in such a mess. It is abundantly clear that we cannot afford to have this mayor, and on behalf of the Inkatha Freedom Party and the ratepayers of the city, I call upon her to resign.

• Candy Seymour is an IFP councillor on the Msunduzi Council.

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