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Protest leaders explain why they called for Mangaung shutdown



Staff Reporter

A member of the little-known Mangaung Community Concern which has called for a total shutdown across Bloemfontein on Monday says they want the city council disbanded because it has failed to serve the residents as shown by the deplorable state of the metro municipality.

The organisation’s representative, Temba Zweni, told The Free Stater by telephone on Sunday night that they have been left with no option but to take to the streets because all their efforts to engage the city authorities have yielded nothing.

“We want the council to be disbanded because it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do,” said Zweni, who identified himself as a member of the group’s communications team.

“We are so frustrated because we can see our monies being mismanaged – that’s why you have unauthorised expenditure of over R1 billion in one year in this municipality.”

“Most of us have been making an effort as individuals to raise our concerns with the municipality, but we ended up deciding that our individual efforts in different corners are not really making any impact and, as such, it would be better if we joined hands and form . . . the Mangaung Community Concern,” he explained.

Zweni said as residents of Mangaung, they are frustrated with the state of the roads where potholes make it difficult to drive around.

He said raw sewage flowing on the streets makes it impossible for most people to open windows of their houses due to its heavy stench.

The organisation wants residents to be more involved in decision making in the municipality.

“We are part of the three components that make a municipality – a municipality is made up of politicians, administrators and the community,” he said.

“But we have been excluded all along. They are not serving us as residents.”

Zweni also said as residents, they had lost confidence in city manager Tankiso Mea and wanted him to go.

He also called for a forensic audit into the operations of the municipality as they suspected several illicit developments could be going on.

“The city manager has proved incompetent and as such we are saying he must be dismissed,” Zweni said.

“We want a forensic investigation into the deals that are happening in this municipality, including the land deals.”

Zweni bemoaned what he called lack of opportunities for residents saying most contracts were given to companies from outside the municipality as well as a high vacancy rate, according to the city’s Integrated Development Plan and reports of the Auditor General.

“Mangaung municipality is sitting with 3 600 vacant positions, which is about 50 percent of its staff complement. Most of those positions are in service delivery clusters,” he said.

Zweni said the city has failed to implement several projects because engineers who are supposed to run them have not been hired, thereby inconveniencing residents.

“We are sitting with a vacancy rate of 61 percent in the engineering section of the municipality,” he claimed.

“We are sitting with 49 percent in the solid waste management department, which is the one that’s supposed to collect all the rubbish out there.

“Unfortunately, refuse has not been collected for a very long time.”

He added: “This municipality is employing 2 000 employees less than those employed by Buffalo City Municipality but the employment costs are the same. How possible is that?”

But in a statement dated May 13, 2021, Mangaung Metro said it had made significant progress in meeting the demands of a local business forum and different community forums.

Among the points, it said it had been agreed that local people be given preference for employment and that more land be made available for developments.

It however said it could not accept the request that Mangaung should not hire outside contractors as it was against the laws of the country and could also disadvantage locals when they sought to do business outside the city.

The municipality however said outside contractors would be required to subcontract locals.


Mangaung warns residents to brace for heavy rainfall



DISRUPTIVE DOWNPOUR LOOMING . . . Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned heavy rainfall is expected to pound the capital

The Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned residents in and around the Free State capital to brace for heavy rainfall that could cause flooding this Friday.

The municipality is urging drivers to take extra caution by reducing speed and switching their headlights on, while pedestrians are being reminded to be careful when crossing the road and to avoid crossing rivers and streams where water is above the ankles.

“Residents of Mangaung Metro, particularly in the former Naledi region, are urged to be cautious on the road and in their homes as the South African Weather Service has issued an impact-based warning . . . for possible disruptive rainfall,” the metro said in a statement.

“This warning is valid for Friday, 20 May 2022 until Saturday, 21 May 2022.”

“Heavy rains are also predicted in Bloemfontein on Friday,” it added.

“Localised flooding can be expected in susceptible low-lying areas, roads, formal/informal settlements and bridges.” – Staff Reporter

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Mangaung speaker vows not to be silenced by charges



DEFIANT . . . Mangaung council speaker Stefani Lockman-Naidoo

Mangaung council speaker Stefani Lockman-Naidoo has vowed not to stop fighting corruption in the metro after she was summoned to a disciplinary hearing set for next month for disobeying her party, the ANC, resulting in the axing and suspension of senior officials in the municipality.

The ANC Mangaung Interim Regional Committee (IRC) has summoned her to a disciplinary hearing on June 7 to answer to charges of knowingly and intentionally defying a resolution of the ANC Caucus in council after she allowed a motion to be debated without referring it to party structures in the council.

Lockman-Naidoo’s tiff with her party dates back to January when the Mangaung IRC announced her suspension after she was accused of defying the ANC’s instruction no to proceed with a sitting which resulted in then acting city manager Sello More being removed from office.

The Mangaung speaker also told The Free Stater on Thursday that she was being targeted for presiding over a recent council sitting that resolved to suspend several allegedly corrupt officials in the municipality.

“We are being charged for suspending a corrupt HOD (head of department),” said Lockman-Naidoo, referring to David Nkaiseng who heads corporate services.

A council meeting held on May 12 – after receiving an investigation report from Matlho Attorneys – resolved, among others, to bring charges against Nkaiseng for his alleged role in unlawfully appointing the officials resulting in the flouting of municipal policy of appointment of officials as well as flouting municipal staff regulations and the code of conduct for municipal officials.

“We are being targeted because we are purging these corrupt officials of Mangaung,” charged Lockman-Naidoo.

“I will not tolerate any corruption . . . Wherever I go I will be known as that speaker that didn’t tolerate corruption,” she added confidently.

The speaker was however quick to point out that those charging her had no authority to do so.

“But you see, the charges are not from the ANC because they didn’t ask for permission from the provincial coordinator (Paseka Nompondo) to charge us,” she said.

“The region itself is an illegitimate structure. Its term has expired and these are just factions . . .

“It’s a faction of the region that is charging us – it’s not the ANC.

“They are the ones that are purging us because we are not part of their faction.

“This is what’s going on. They don’t tolerate me.”

Lockman-Naidoo claimed the faction was not happy with the suspension of the HOD.

“The council resolution . . . says several criminal charges must be opened against the HOD himself and relevant officials,” she said.

“And I’m wrong for suspending a person like that?

“I don’t mind being charged at all because we did the right thing as council.

“They are saying . . . they are charging us because I allowed the item to sit in council.

“It’s not my item – it’s a council item. I couldn’t remove it. There was nothing I could do.”

Council also resolved that Nzimeni Maswabi be charged by acting city manager for his role in approving unlawful staff appointments.

It also wants Thabang Joseph Mpeli to be charged for his role in the drafting of unlawful appointment letters.

However, ANC Mangaung IRC spokesperson Ncamisa Ngxangisa has dismissed Lockman-Naidoo’s claims saying the party was not targeting anyone but it simply wanted to put its house in order.

In a separate interview, Ngxangisa said there were concerns some councillors could be working with the opposition, hence the probe.

“We are not targeting individuals. We are dealing with members of the ANC who happen to be councillors in this regard,” he told The Free Stater.

“This is after we received concerns that there could be some members who are voting with the opposition, against the position of the caucus of the ANC in that municipality.

“We took everything as it is, and referred the matter to our sub-committee that deals with issues of discipline so that they inquire into all these allegations levelled against all these comrades.

“But at the same time, it gives these comrades an opportunity to respond or query any evidence that may be presented against them.”

Ngxangisa said every organisation implements disciplinary processes when something goes wrong and the ANC was only exercising its right to do so.

“We are a political party, we contest elections,” he said.

“We are relying on our councillors to make sure that our policy position and decisions find expression in that council.

“If there are allegations that such is not happening, any self-loving political party will stand up and do something about it.

“These accusations are neither here nor there – no one is targeted.

“There are concerns that the centre is not holding in that municipality.

“Our caucus through the chief whip is not given enough support by our councillors and there are such allegations.

“That’s a cause for serious concern which must be attended to so that the ANC can at least enjoy its majority in that municipality.”

The Mangaung IRC spokesperson emphasised that the ANC was firmly against any corrupt activities but indicated that councillors were expected to represent the interests of the party and not their own.

“When we say all councillors must toe this line, we expect everyone to toe that line. Anyone who goes astray is a concern to us,” he said.  – Staff Reporter

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Centlec warns cable theft masterminds



STOLEN . . . Part of the copper cable recovered by the police

Power distribution company Centlec has issued a stern warning to people believed to be hired by unknown individuals or syndicates to steal copper cables from the power lines saying it will not allow them to destroy such key infrastructure and put the country’s economy at risk.

“This is war and we will fight it tooth and nail,” said Centlec in a statement.

“We want to send a strong message to the criminals and their handlers that we will not rest until they are behind bars,” added the company, which distributes electricity to Mangaung and surrounding municipalities.

It said it is aware that most of the criminals are just fronts who are sent by kingpins who then process the copper before selling it.

Centlec warned the kingpins that they would soon face the full might of the law.

“Some of the fronts happen to be vulnerable foreign nationals who are being used to steal our cables by their handlers,” said the company.

A joint operation by Centlec and the police in recent weeks has led to several arrests and the recovery of hundreds of kilogrammes of copper cable destined for scrapyards.

In the latest three incidents, a man was arrested in Botshabelo after being found in possession of copper cable believed to have been stolen.

Several people were also arrested following inspections at two scrapyards in Botshabelo where large amounts of copper were found.

At a scrapyard in Bloemfontein, a man was issued with a fine after he was found with copper weighing 150kg which he failed to account for.

Investigations are still underway to ascertain the real owner of the scrapyard for possible arrest.

“We are worried that many of these scrapyards are becoming a haven for criminals and promoting criminality,” said Centlec chief executive officer Malefane Sekoboto. – Staff Reporter

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