Council closes with Speaker’s scorching

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A diatribe from Council’s Speaker at the end of the open section of Wednesday 25 April Ordinary Council meeting was so searing that it could have incinerated in seconds every agenda in the chamber, were the municipality still routinely distributing printed council documents. However, the emailing of electronic agendas for Council meetings is one of several measures the current Makana Council has adopted to save costs and improve efficiency.

With the process of appointing a municipal manager well under way, the renewal of acting MM Ted Pillay’s appointment from 1 May to 31 July was pending progress regarding the former, the Speaker Yandiswa Vara said. Mayor Nomhle Gaga pointed out that once the appointment was finalised, the MEC still had to concur. Gaga spoke at length about the disruption caused by years of being without a permanent municipal manager.

In other personnel changes, the Speaker thanked traffic chief Coenraad Hanekom for a constructive term as acting director of social services. Fire services manager William Welkom will act in the directorship for the next three months.

Pillay said an analysis by National Treasury has assessed revenue collection as Makana’s biggest weakness. To this end, Treasury had approved the appointment of a company to enhance collection and billing in the municipality.

Separately, with collections company Revco’s contract ending 30 April, the function would remain outsourced, with the bid adjudication committee having made a decision.

Other items on the agenda included the Section 52 report – described in the agenda as a comparison between the progress of the budget to the projections contained in the Service Delivery and Budget Implementation Plan and reports on supply chain management, the Grahamstown Muslim Community’s application to purchase municipal land to build a mosque, a local committee dealing with traditional initiation and the ward committee report. Pillay announced the intention of the Municipal Demarcation Board to realign some of the boundaries between Makana and Ndlambe municipalities.

Regarding concern about underspending of the budget for key upgrades, Infrastructure and Technical Services Director Dali Mlenzana said these funds would be spent by June. Pillay added that problems with the awarding of tenders and the subsequent process of dealing with those tenders had delayed progress on those projects.

At the close of the open session, the Speaker said she accepted the right of communities to protest. Then in an extraordinary general address to unnamed groups or individuals, she said there had been improvements in Makana and that people who were protesting had been fed misinformation. 

“We are not promoting corruption and we are not going to promote corruption,” Vara said. “Historic debt is our main challenge. There is change and improvement in Makana.”

During her diatribe Vara made an explosive allegation about Tuesday’s attack on immigrant owned shops. 

In apparent reference to a letter recently sent by civic groups to the Province expressing concern with local government, Vara did not hold back on non-specific threats. She accused them of discrediting the Council and said, “We are aware and we are watching you. You will see… one day your time will come and you will feel the pain.”

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