Lucas accused of being a ‘puppet’

2018-10-17 06:02
Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas engaging with the community of the Dikgatlong Municipality on Thursday (11/10).Photo: Boipelo Mere

Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas engaging with the community of the Dikgatlong Municipality on Thursday (11/10).Photo: Boipelo Mere

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It will take a very long time before the Section 139 rule will be implemented at municipal level, as is being demanded by the community of the Dikgatlong Municipality.

Sylvia Lucas, Northern Cape Premier, said this to booing community members in the Debeershoogte Community Hall on Thursday (11/10), when she explained that their demand for implementing the ruling could not be addressed as easily as they thought.

The community members said the premier had wasted her time by coming to them and that she was either misled or a puppet, as she did not come with a solution for their problems.

They demanded that their mayor, Dorothy Mbizeni, and the chief finacial officer (CFO), Levona Itumeleng, be removed with immediate effect.

“As julle praat van Section 139, dan praat julle van ’n ding wat baie lank sal vat,” said Lucas.

“The MEC (Bentley Vass) has to send someone to investigate, who will compile a report for him. Then government has to take a resolution, that has to be sent to the minister, who has to forward it to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). Then the NCOP must send a delegation to come and investigate. The NCOP has to say yes first before the thing can happen.”

Lucas arrived under heavy police guard, flanked by Bentley Vass, MEC of the Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (COGHSTA) and Lt Gen. Risimati Shivuri, Northern Cape Police Commissioner.

She had to put on a brave face and step closer to the residents while addressing them, as they were booing her.

Lucas gave feedback to the community on possible solutions, following what the community had described as a peaceful protest since March, in which they blocked the roads with burning tyres and rocks.

The community of Barkly West, Longlands and Delportshoop had alleged that municipal officers had been involved in the sale of property along the Vaal River in Delportshoop, and had made accusations of the misappropriation of funds, as well as a lack of basic services.

A first meeting was held on Monday, 8 October, when the delegation was instructed by the community to consult with all relevant stakeholders in the local government sector on the challenges confronting the Dikgatlong Municipality.

Lucas left the hall while Shivuri had the role of calming the residents by explaining to them the processes the police, had to follow in dealing with angry protesters.

The community questioned whether Lucas’s role was that of a mediator or a representative of the ANC, after she had emphasised that she did not have the authority to remove the mayor.

Lucas promised to take the first step towards meeting the demands of the community that the CFO be put on special leave by council, and then investigate the allegations by the residents.

Regarding the removal of the mayor, she said only the ANC, who had deployed him, could deal with the issue of his removal.

“We do not have the jurisdiction as government. All we as government can do, is to remove the CFO so that an investigation can be conducted. We will also engage with the district municipality to assist in terms of basic services like sewerage and water.”

Council has been requested to review its credit control policy and to consult with the community for input, of which the process should allow for the update of the indigents list.

“Council should also schedule a meeting with Eskom to renegotiate payment terms and develop a realistic payment plan and (consider) the legal implications thereof.”

The community said Lucas was fooled by fellow comrades who were not transparent and did not bother to listen to the community. She promised the protestors that she would address their demands herself, as she had seen the memorandum of demands.

The community apparently feels undermined by the municipality and political leaders. According to Jidas Demoense, one of the leading members of the residents’ association, politicians are playing delaying tricks of dividing them through race, while enjoying the individual advantages.

“Let them just bring us hope through consulting and accounting,” said Demoense.

“The politicians are hijacking each other without consideration for ordinary people’s lives.

“I mean, where have you ever heard of a school being closed due to flooding sewerage? Now our children miss out on school, and they are protecting the municipality from being placed under Section 139, as should be done by the court outcome of 11 June.”

“This will explode in their faces if they are not careful.”

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