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Struggling Oudtshoorn municipality blamed for tourist attraction’s decline

Struggling Oudtshoorn municipality blamed for tourist attraction’s decline

A decision by the Western Cape government to freeze bank account details of the troubled Oudtshoorn Municipality, has sparked renewed concerns about the future of town’s tourist attractions, most notably the Cango Caves.

In an interview with Die Burger yesterday, Provincial Minister for Finance, Dr Ivan Meyer, said the imposed suspension, amidst a continuing power struggle between the Democratic Alliance (DA) and African National Congress (ANC), prevents any official from withdrawing funds out of the municipality’s account, adding that a plan to resolve the struggling attraction’s finances would be implemented soon.

“The municipality’s failure to table a budget for the 2015 / 2016 financial year, has left us with no choice but to intervene. As such, no withdrawals from municipal accounts, including those of the caves, would be allowed until approval is granted, “Meyer said.

“We have imposed strict financial and disciplinary measures to ensure that not a single cent of taxpayers’ money is unnecessarily wasted”.

His comments comes after the paper earlier this week reported that the municipality had failed to pay a service provider R3-million for the upgrading of outdated electrical connections and lighting inside the caves, while it was also revealed that around R16-million of the caves’ own money, disappeared from an investment account last year. The municipality has however reportedly denied that such an account ever existed.

Meyer however stated that the caves would remain open as the escalating financial crisis was due to the municipality and not management running the attraction.

“The caves are being run by a group of competent officials. For us as government, we would continue to do everything in our power to make this attraction a national asset worth being proud of,” he said.

Speaking to the paper, Cango manager, Hein Gerstner, said the municipality’s takeover of the caves’ finances in June last year, had effectively robbed them of any funds for advertising or maintenance accumulated over the last 22 years.

“We did everything in power to properly manage that account in such a way that the caves would have become our flagship assist,” Gerstner said.

No comment from the municipality has yet been made.


IMAGEsourced from www.oldsworth.co.za