STATE MUM ON MAKANA: DAILY DISPATCH

CALLS for the Makana Municipality to be placed under provincial government administration have fallen on deaf ears.

Local government and traditional affairs spokesman Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha yesterday declined to comment on calls by DA Eastern Cape leaders that they place the cash-strapped local authority under administration.

“We will not respond [to] this hysteria,” was all an email said.

Although Sicwetsha declined to comment, he said earlier this week they were going to help the municipality sort out their affairs.

The DA request was backed by Grahamstown-based government watchdog the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM) yesterday.

The response from Sicwetsha followed several requests by the Dispatch from Wednesday for comment on DA claims that an advance payment of rates to the tune of R3-million by Rhodes University on Friday to Makana indicated they were in financial trouble.

“Last week’s bailout to Makana as ‘advanced rates’ because the municipality could not pay salaries shows a [city] in dire financial distress,” DA local government spokesman Dacre Haddon said.

But Rhodes was described by municipal spokesman Mncedisi Boma as “one of Makana Municipality’s debtors in respect of municipal services [who] owe the Makana Municipality R8-million rands”. He made no mention that the money was disputed.

Earlier this week, the university said a year-old dispute over an R8-million electricity bill was still unresolved due to a “turnover” of staff in the finance department.

Although Rhodes provided R3-million as requested, they said a memorandum had been signed with Makana saying it was a once-off advance of rates and not part of the disputed R8-million.

Haddon wrote to Qoboshiyane requesting he conduct a forensic investigation into Makana’s finances while DA MP Kevin Mileham had written to the Minister of Cooperative Governance, Lechesa Tsenoli, asking him to intervene in this matter.

PSAM head Jay Kruuse said current service delivery challenges within Makana were a contravention of section 139 of the South African Constitution and would qualify the local authority for administration.

“Whether that will in fact occur remains to be seen, as often despite such contraventions the province does not intervene for politically expedient reasons.” —