Mooi River’s well paid Councillors fiddle while the town slowly dies

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Mooi River is home to a man who reminds me what politics is supposed to be about – selfless leaders fearlessly serving the people. Ken Denysschen is the sole DA representative on the Mpofana City Council. He provides insight into how dysfunctional some small municipalities like his have become. Brace yourself.

By Ken Denysschen, Democratic Alliance Councillor on the Mpofana Municipality.

The recent strike by municipal workers (in Mooi River) highlights the problems within the municipality that will never end with the current leadership in place.

For the unions to strike over the failure of management and council to take charge of their responsibilities, so workers can do their jobs, speaks volumes of the failure of the current and past leadership.

I must admit I agree with union on their list of grievances. They are not looking for more money and less working time, but for management and council to be held accountable for their lack of performance.

I have questioned, this week at a special council meeting, when a Municipal Manager and CFO will be employed. To my amazement I was told that a Municipal Manager (MM) would be employed by end of June 2013. This serves to confirm the rumours and statements by more than one ANC councillor that Muzi Madlala will be back as Municipal Manager.

Given his disgraceful track record of leaving the Municipality with over R110m in debt and blatant disregard for legislation and council resolutions, how is it that the Mayor states that the MEC is “shortlisting” for the MM’s position?

The shortlisting, interviewing and employment is the function and responsibility of council and not the MEC. The only way the MEC can become involved is at the request of council. This issue has never been discussed in council and I am not aware of a council resolution to take this matter to the MEC.

Given that the acting CFO has raised the fact that MIG (Municipal Infrastructure Grant) funds have been used for the day to day running expenses of the municipality under the previous CFO and MM, without the knowledge and consent of council speaks volumes of why the former MM should not be re-employed. It also brings into question the Audit report of last year. The municipality also has to find R20m to pay back the “unused” MIG funds.

Council was unanimous in terminating the former MM’s contract and also in rejecting his CV during the first round of shortlisting. Why then is the MEC becoming involved in this process and current councillors stating that the former MM is “coming back”?

I have also been questioned by Ward 2 community members to the status of Councillor Zweli Dladla. This Councillor has been absent from council meetings (with apologies) and none of the portfolios he chairs have sat in a very long time. I have been told by some Rosetta residents that he has resigned. I have seen a document from Cllr Dladla where he stated he was not prepared to chair any of his portfolio committees or be involved with them and where he states he cannot work with other ANC councillors.

I have also asked the Mayor about his status and have not got a straight answer as to whether he is resigning or not. This would serve to confirm that he is or will be resigning. At this point he gets a monthly salary but fails to tend to his duties in council and from what I am told by Rosetta residents his duties to his ward.

Cllr Duma on the other hand seems to be the one pushing for the replacement of the acting MM. As agreed by council KPA’s must be set and measured. I have yet to see any KPA’s or the results of any reviews of such KPA’s so how is the acting MM being measured to say he is not up to the job.

The acting MM has now been tasked an amount of outstanding issues that he will never be able to achieve. A classic example is the Cragieburn Housing project. This has been dead for over 5 years yet the acting MM is tasked with reviving it before the end of June 2013. Why was the previous MM not fired over this issue? Instead it seems he will get his job back unless the residents of Mpofana stand up and make their voices heard.

While I am too frustrated, with the slow if not non-existent pace of service delivery, without a leader who has a vision and understanding of how to achieve this vision this municipality is doomed to failure.

The abuse of municipal assets by councillors, which is illegal, continues without any plan to curb this abuse. As long as the ANC runs MPAC they will never police themselves. If they had we would not be facing the issues we are right now.

One must ask, with all the extra workers, how is it that this town remains dirty and pothole strewn? The municipal gardens are a point in case. With permanent staff employed to maintain this how is it that the gardens are never cleaned? The grass is cut and that’s about the extent of the work done.

Recently a staff member was seen drinking in a local bar during working hours. This was reported to the municipality. This staff member is still employed. Clearly the union is right in that management is failing in its responsibility.

The same must be said about council. All the portfolios are chaired by ANC councillors. They are the people responsible for setting the dates for meetings. A calendar for the year was adopted in December 2012 for portfolio meetings as well as council meetings. This calendar remains ignored. When questioned why I am told by Cllr Duma that there is no money to hold regular meetings, but councillors can illegally use municipal vehicles to be driven around in!

It is therefore confusing when you sit in a council meeting and the councillors blame management for their being no portfolio meetings. Clearly the portfolio chairs are not performing their duties.