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Q&A | We’re going for a clean sweep this time round: MAP16 leader



The Maluti-a-Phofung 16 or MAP16 Civic Movement says it will not go into any coalition with the ANC because they don’t live by the same principles. MAP16 leader Paratlane Motloung says they are preparing for a clean sweep in the cash-strapped Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality in the forthcoming local government elections set for November 1. The MAP16 is made up of councillors who were expelled from the ANC in 2018 after they were accused of working with the opposition in council. The decision immediately backfired against the ruling party as it went on to lose 10 wards in a by-election in 2019, leaving them with only five.

How ready are you for the elections and how do see your chances of making significant gains?

Election day is almost here. We have been quite active since the elections were proclaimed, so we are prepared. We have been busy.

When you contested as independent candidates in the 2019 by-elections under the MAP16 banner, you didn’t have much time to campaign and you were largely viewed as a disgruntled group simply trying to wrest power. How optimistic are you now in terms of the support you have?

We are very much optimistic. That is why we are contesting the whole municipality this time round. We are also contesting the seats in the Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality. That says we are very much optimistic. The soil is fertile for us. People are tired of the ruling party here. We believe we have got a chance of taking over the municipality. The chance of having a majority is in sight.

How many candidates are you fielding and do you have a competent set of people to change things in local government there?

Maluti-a-Phofung has 35 wards and it will have about 77 proportional representation seats in this election. We have candidates who understand the needs of the people because that’s why we were fighting when we had a fall-out with the ANC.

Couldn’t you work out things with the ANC after the dust had settled?

Remember how we came out of the ANC was because 16 councillors had been dismissed from the party. So, when the 16 were dismissed, some of us who were not fired decided to go with them. We were supporting them for the cause that they were pursuing in the municipality . . . that of anti-corruption. After that, there was nothing left for us in the ANC.

But the ANC tried to reach out to you and wanted to make amends. Wasn’t that enough to bring you together to talk?

The fact that they came back later and apologised . . . in a way, it was an insult to people like myself. They were just insulting my intelligence. That’s how I feel about it.

And what will happen should you fail to get a majority in council? Will you not consider a coalition with the ANC?

There is no chance for a coalition with the ANC, but with other parties, yes. With the ANC it’s a no, no.

What will it take for you to be able to sit down with the ANC and work things out?

There is nothing new . . . Actually, we are not interested in any discussion with the ANC, I must be honest. And that’s simply because the ANC does not have the interests of the community here. That’s one principle that would make us want to talk to them. We have been members of the ANC for so long. Some of us have been in these councils. We know how it operates. We know the culture that’s in the ANC. We are also even vindicated now with their choice of candidates. Things have gone from bad to worse. I started the ANC here in QwaQwa after the unbanning of political parties together with other members, but wouldn’t want to associate with it now. I was not recruited by anyone. I started it together with the others. We took the initiative to start the structures of the ANC here. None of them can tell me anything.

What are you promising the people should you be given the mandate to lead after this election?

Look, the people here want simple things. The basics. They want water, electricity, good roads, they want the sewage running down the streets to be stopped. And they want the refuse removed on a regular basis. We know how those issues affect them. In our manifesto, we were telling them we will be able to deliver in those areas. You can’t have development if those issues are not addressed.

How are you going to address the issue of unemployment?

Our attitude is that if we can get the basics right by stabilising the availability of water, electricity, fixing roads, sewage others, it becomes easier to address all the other issues. We also believe that we should prioritise local businesses or contractors whenever there are jobs at the municipality at all times. And when the municipality has to hire people, locals should be prioritised. We believe when people have meaningful jobs, they will be able to pay for services like electricity.

One of the issues raised in most municipalities across the country is that there is no money to implement projects or deliver services. How valid is this point, in your view?

The money is often misused. In Maluti-a-Phofung, there is a lot corruption such that the municipality is mainly dependent on the equitable share and other grants like the MIG (Municipal Infrastructure Grant). Other revenue sources such as the selling of electricity are not working. In our instance, most households have bridged the electricity meters, so people are not buying electricity. They are consuming it for free. That is one of the reasons why the municipality owes Eskom in excess of R6 billion. That’s one big challenge that we will have to deal with. But I must say the main thing was corruption, especially during the time of former mayor Vusi Tshabalala.

That’s a very serious allegation. What happened?

They were not servicing the account with Eskom and many other creditors. It’s a challenge that we will be inheriting when we get there. On a quarterly basis, this municipality receives in excess of R250 million in equitable share, which we believe can make a difference with regard to the challenges that we face here. We know that the equitable share is mainly for subsidising the indigents, but unfortunately in our case here it’s not working like that. The municipality is in a very bad state, financially.   

Could this bridging of electricity meters be an indication that people cannot afford, maybe due to high unemployment and poverty levels?

While I agree that there is a high level of unemployment here, the issue of the bridging of electricity meters is not necessarily due to that . . . Even people who are working and can afford are not buying electricity here because of the corruption that was happening in the municipality.

The EFF has been quite active campaigning in the eastern Free State. Do you see them giving you serious competition?

We don’t even consider them. There is very little coming from them. Currently, they have nine seats in the Maluti-a-Phofung council and I can tell you they will be lucky to have five after this election. They are of no serious challenge to us. Those that talk to us acknowledge they are no match to us. We expect to take most of the seats. We believe we stand a chance of taking over the municipality with a clear majority. If we fail, it will be by a slight percentage that will require a coalition with some opposition parties excluding the ANC. But we believe we are front runners for taking the municipality.

And why should anyone consider voting for you?

We are the only practical alternative that is available in Maluti-a-Phofung. We have already proven that we have the muscle to take on the ANC at all levels. The people of Maluti-a-Phofung have a chance to change their lives. There is no chance that the ANC will ever change their lives. Things are going to get worse if we don’t win this election. This is an important chance that people have to change their lives.

But what if someone says you are coming from the ANC, how different are you from them?

Remember, many organisations come from the ANC. That logic therefore doesn’t hold water any longer. We are where we are today because we challenged the ANC from inside. We were challenging all the wrong things from the inside. We were actually disrupting their corruption and they side-lined us. We realised things were not going to change and we left. They could not follow us up because we are confident they won’t find anything on us.

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Parts of Free State may not have power for up to three weeks



PROLONGED BLACKOUT LOOMS . . . Eskom says consumers in some parts of the Free State may not have electricity for up to three weeks

Eskom has warned consumers in the south-eastern Free State that they may not have electricity for up to three weeks due to voltage constraints on the network feeding the Melkspruit Substation.

The power failure resulted in electricity users in Zastron, Rouxville and Smithfield as well as those fed directly by Eskom on the RVZ and RVS 22 kV lines experiencing outages over the past weekend.

Eskom’s spokesperson in the Free State, Stefanie Jansen van Rensburg, said the problem may persist until major work on a line from the Northern Cape is completed.

“The voltage constraint on the network will persist until construction of structures on the Ruigtevallei-Valleydora 132 kV line in the Northern Cape is completed,” said Van Rensburg as she urged consumers to remain patient while the supply challenge is addressed.

“Free State teams are currently assisting to speed up the process. It is however expected that work will take two to three weeks to complete.”

“In the meantime, electricity users are urged to use electricity sparingly, especially during the morning and evening peak hours, to prevent trips,” she added.

South Africa has been experiencing rolling blackouts in recent weeks due to what Eskom has described a “continued shortage of generation capacity”.

On Sunday, the national power utility said in a separate statement it had about 3 028 megawatts on planned maintenance, while another 14 992 megawatts of capacity were unavailable due to breakdowns.

While the loadshedding is meant to ease pressure on the national grid and avoid a total collapse of the system, the practice has reportedly caused damage on some lines when power is switched back on.

Eskom has always said loadshedding is implemented only as a last resort to protect the national grid and promised to limit the implementation of loadshedding to the evening peak in order to limit the impact of the capacity shortages on the public. – Staff Reporter

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Minister shuts down troubled Free State water supplier



MOVE GAZETTED . . . Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu has disestablished Sedibeng Water

Staff and key assets from the embattled Sedibeng Water Board are set to be transferred to the Bloemwater and Magalies water boards following the gazetting of the move by Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu last week.

The department’s spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau, said in a statement the development is in line with the minister’s commitment to review the country’s water boards to enable them to perform optimally while enhancing the delivery of water to municipalities and ultimately to households.

The decision to disestablish Sedibeng Water – which served Matjhabeng, Masilonyana and Nala local municipalities, among others – means its staff, assets and liabilities will be absorbed by Bloemwater in the Free State and Magalies in Gauteng.

The move, according to Ratau, was initiated by the minister following his working sessions with provincial governments, various water services authorities and water boards regarding issues of governance, financial viability as well as accountability and broader service delivery issues after taking office in August last year.

“The review is based on considerations of financial sustainability, servicing areas that are not currently serviced and is also intended to address institutional confusion caused by having multiple water boards serving the same area,” said Ratau.

“The disestablishment of Sedibeng Water is in accordance with section 28 of the Water Services Act of 1997 which affords Minister Mchunu the authority to disestablish a water board.

“The gazette was published on Friday, 20 May 2022 and will remain open to the public for a period of 40 days.

“Members of the public and all interested parties are invited to make comments in writing on the disestablishment of the board.”

The department said it will ensure there is smooth transition of the disestablishment and that water service provision to communities is not affected.

Based in Bothaville, Sedibeng Water was established to, among others, treat wastewater and supply potable water in a viabile and sustainable manner.

However, in recent years, some of the municipalities served by the water board have struggled over the years to pay on time for the bulk water supplies even though residents have argued that they pay their monthly bills on time.

At the end of March this year, Sedibeng reportedly owed its service providers over R5-billion as it was struggling to secure payment from several municipalities. – Staff Reporter

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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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