All eyes on new mayor

The demand for change by residents of the trouble-ridden Letsemeng Local Municipality has resulted in the ANC appointing a new acting mayor, Abram Lebaka.

He was appointed on 23 October, replacing Sello Bahumi, who resigned on 21 October.

Residents staged a series of protests, demanding among other things the removal of Bahumi from the position of acting mayor, as well as improved basic services.

“Whether residents’ demand for improved basic services will be addressed, remains to be seen – in spite of the removal of Bahumi,” said Thabo Nthabo, DA councillor in Letsemeng.

The municipality governs Xhariep District towns in the south-west Free State. These are Petrusburg, Jacobsdal, Oppermansgronde, Luckhoff and Koffiefontein, a diamond mining town where the municipal headquarters are housed.

The municipality’s financial problems are well-documented, with a range of issues.

For instance, Eskom debt escalated from R12 million to R40 million, resulting in power cuts in parts of Letsemeng. These measures sparked an uproar among loyal rate payers and residents.

They also expressed dissatisfaction over raw sewage streaming down the roads and the non-collection of refuse, which reportedly was left to rot in the sun in recent months.

Lebaka, serves as Ward 3 councillor and Bahumi as Ward 6 councillor. Both are from Petrusburg.

The ousted Bahumi was acting in the influential position since March 2019 after taking over from Thandiwe Reachable, who served longer.

She resigned ahead of the 2019 general election due to mounting pressure from unhappy residents who had accused her of the same issues that led Bahumi to quit.

Bahumi’s resignation came only months ahead of the 2021 local government election.

The ANC has nine representatives in the council, the DA two and the EFF one.

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