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Criminal charges to be made against ECape municipal manager

Criminal charges to be made against ECape municipal manager

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape has said it will lay criminal charges against the acting Municipal Manager of the embattled Ikwezi Local Municipality in the Karoo, after municipal workers took the streets of Jansenville on Monday in an alleged dispute over salaries.

According to reports, calm has reportedly returned to the town two days after workers blockaded the bridge over the Sunday’s River with burning tyres, in protest against the municipality’s failure to pay their salaries for the month of January.

In a statement, DA Shadow Minister of Public Service and Administration, Annette Lovemore, said a number of fraud and corruption charges were made against the municipality last year, but that neither was subjected to any form of investigation.

“The municipal manager was suspended two years ago. He remains on paid leave, with the municipality no closer to resolution of the matter,” Lovemore said.

She added that the municipality, which is set for an imminent merger with the ANC-run Camdeboo and DA-controlled-Baviaans Local Municipalities, was subjected to a forensic audit investigation two years ago with no outcome ever being made available to the public.

“It was only after the auditor general issued a second consecutive audit disclaimer that the mayor was forced to take action,” Lovemore said.

Taking a swipe at the merger, Lovemore stated that the decision, announced by then Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordham last year, proves that the ruling party is “refusing to take real action against utter incompetence”.

“Instead, it will be hidden, and ratepayers of other areas will be required to foot the bills that this administration has incurred”.

Ikwezi, which also includes Klipplaat and Waterford, was placed under administration in 2013 amidst wide-scale allegations of poor service delivery and financial irregularities.  

This resulted in a number of protests over unpaid salaries in May and July last year, with the provincial government also forced to intervene after Eskom threatened to cut power supply in December due to outstanding debts.