Tatane Project: The mute mayor

2012-11-18 10:00
Sizwe sama Yende
Dipaleseng Local Municipality Mayor Sarah Nhlapho is notorious for avoiding speaking to her residents.

But not only the residents.

City Press’ repeated requests for an interview, since October last year, have been refused.

This month, Nhlapho’s spokesperson Phindile Sidu again asked for written questions, to which no answers came.

We sought answers about why, for the first two weeks of this month, there was no water supply to Siyathemba.

We also wanted a response to endless rumours about irregular staff appointments.

A staff member, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “When the mayor came into office, she employed a new personal assistant while the previous one was still there. And the chief traffic officer did not meet the requirements of the post.

“An amount of R300 000 disappeared in the finance office last year, but absolutely nothing was done to recover the money.”

Another question we asked was why the council had not implemented Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s recommendations, which aimed to address maladministration, to ensure that corrupt officials and councillors were held accountable, and to recover about R1.5 million lost through fraud.

Auditor-General Terence Nombembe found in his 2010/11 qualified report into the council’s finances that officials had applied unfair or uncompetitive processes in awarding tenders to the value of R5.6 million.

He also said key officials lacked minimum competencies and skills and therefore failed to comply with laws and regulations.

“This is a ticking time bomb,” warned Socialist Civic Movement councillor Dumisani Zwane.

“The council can’t implement any plan or resolution, and portfolio committees are not sitting at all. We’ve been fighting the issue of a municipal manager since January. The only things that have been done are the paving of internal streets and installation of masthead lights.”

The municipal library that was burned down during the protests in 2010 is still a vacant shell. It is strewn with broken beer bottles and young men loiter there, smoking and urinating on the walls.

The local football stadium, where senior politicians made their empty promises, is still dilapidated with patches of overgrown grass.

At the height of government’s intervention a year ago, a new home ­affairs office, disaster management centre and a taxi rank were built. But that was all.

Government promised to build a new police station in Siyathemba but, like all the others, this promise may or may not be kept.

And Nhlapho’s mouth will probably remain zipped.