Stutterheim residents tell Eastern Cape premier of jobs for sex and cash, embezzlement, corruption

2020-02-07 20:44
Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane visited Amahlathi residents after a petition sent to his office. (Johnnie Isaac, GroundUp)

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane visited Amahlathi residents after a petition sent to his office. (Johnnie Isaac, GroundUp)

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Municipal jobs for sex, jobs for sale, rampant corruption, broken sewerage pipes, possibly millions embezzled.

These were the issues residents of the Amahlathi Local Municipality raised with Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane when he visited the area on Thursday.

Last week, protesting residents closed the Amahlathi traffic department and some of the schools around Stutterheim, demanding the premier come to Stutterheim and address them.

Residents have been making allegations against the municipality for years.

In September 2018, protesters closed the busy N6 between Stutterheim and East London demanding jobs and basic services. In October 2018, municipal offices, a clinic and part of the Mlungisi Commercial Park shopping centre were torched. Two people died in that protest. Weeks of protests then followed.

After a meeting with protesters on November 19, Eastern Cape Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Fikile Xasa announced the National Treasury would probe allegations of nepotism and "jobs for sale".

Meanwhile, residents elected a crisis committee in January 2019.

Rumours circulated that a report by the Special Investigation Unit had not been made public.

On Thursday at a meeting at the Emjojweni sports field in Stutterheim, residents of Stutterheim, Cathcart and Keiskammahoek made it clear to Mabuyane they have lost all confidence in the Amahlathi Local Municipality council.

Resident Xolani Mnyakambi told Mabuyane they did not believe the municipality would act on any responsibilities the premier gave them. He accused councillors of failing to table council reports in which some of them were implicated in corruption.

Sexual favours

Another resident, Abongile Matiwane, told Mabuyane municipal officials were selling jobs to male applicants and offering jobs in exchange for sexual favours from female ones.

"It is painful that our sisters have to take off their underwear in order to get jobs and us men must pay R5000 bribes," he said.

Residents asked Mabuyane to investigate the millions of rand allocated to tar 70km of the road between Stutterheim and Tsomo as well as the nearly R4m allocated for the construction of a road through Rhabe Village in Keiskammahoek.

Residents said they believed this money had been embezzled and that 300 houses were supposed to have been built in 2002.

Responding to a petition sent to the Office of the Premier, Mabuyane's adviser, Zandisile Quphe, said the provincial Department of Human Settlements was ready to build the 300 houses but the delay was caused by the Amathole District Municipality which was yet to build infrastructure for sanitation and water.

Quphe also blamed it for the sewage problems in Cathcart.

Mabuyane apologised to residents for the provincial government's failure to fix the Amahlathi Local Municipality, saying the government had tried several things, including a section 139B to put the municipality under administration.

He criticised councillors for failing to hold regular meetings with the community.

"Councillors are supposed to meet with their communities at least once a month. I understand that such things are not happening here and that is why people are not aware of what is happening," said Mabuyane.

Right to protest

He added people have the right to protest but warned them about the consequences of destroying existing infrastructure. "When you burn a kilometre of a tarred road you are burning R13m."

Mabuyane said the Amathole District Municipality would attend to the sewage problems in the coming week.

The organiser of the Amahlathi Crisis Committee, Thembikaya Watshi, was upbeat after the meeting.

"The problem before was that we would have several meetings, eight to nine meetings, but the resolutions taken were sent back to the same municipality we were complaining about hence there was no progress."

Mabuyane promised to return in two weeks' time.

The meeting was also attended by Amahlathi Mayor Agnes Hobo and speaker Xolisile Mjikelo.

Speaking at the meeting, Mjikelo said a council meeting would be convened and all the matters that should be in the council business would be dealt with.

Read more on:    east london  |  service delivery
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