The Amathole District Municipality Executive Mayor has moved to allay the community’s fears that service delivery will be compromised due to the looming non-payment of workers.
Mayor Khanyile Maneli says the municipality has entered into an agreement with the Amatola Water Board to ensure that there is no disruption in services in areas the municipality is servicing.
He says the workers’ strike that was suspended recently has cost the municipality R19 million.
“This was for additional capacity in an effort to ensure continuity in terms of rendering services to our communities, whilst some was directed to the deliberate infrastructure sabotage that was on the rise during the strike,” he says.
Maneli says they are continuing lobbying for intervention from both the provincial and national governments.
Talks between the municipality and labour are also in progress.
On Friday, the municipality raised the ire of workers’ union, Samwu, after announcing that it won’t be paying workers workers for February, April, May and June due to financial constraints.
The municipality cites an inflated organogram, low revenue collection and a R50 million debt to the Department of Water and Sanitation as some of the reasons for this dire financial situation.
However, Samwu believes that the municipality’s problems are not necessarily financial but systematic.
“In essence, the municipal management is conceding to the fact that they have failed to govern the District. They have no financial systems and plans in place to ensure the financial sustainability of the institution. Furthermore, they have no interest in service delivery to the residents.
Samwu therefore calls on the Eastern Cape Provincial government to immediately place the Amathole District Municipality under administration in terms of Section 139 (1) (b) of the country’s constitution. We further demand that the Municipal Manager be recused of his duties as he has shown that he cannot competently run the institution,” the union says.
The union also demands that the Provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) institute a forensic audit of the municipal accounts from 2014.
“We are convinced that the financial irregularities which will be uncovered are the root cause of the situation which the municipality finds itself in today,” says the union.
Samwu is threatening mass action to push for the axing of the municipal manager, Thandekile Mnyimba, and the municipality placed under administration.
The municipality also faces a legal action from coalition of community activists and civil society organisations, who have given it until Friday to give them emergency and long-term water provision plans for communities of ward 28 in Centane.