AMATHOLE SUSPENDS ‘MANDELA PUB’ PAINTER: DAILY DISPATCH

“The ethos of Mandela Day is to take action to make the world a better place.” — Dacre Haddon

MPUMELELO Gaba, the Amathole District Municipality (ADM) official who allegedly committed council funds to paint a Peddie tavern in honour of Nelson Mandela’s birthday, has been suspended.

The event, which was attended by the Ngqushwa Local Municipality’s top brass, left residents angered, with some saying the money could have been put to better use.

Ngqushwa council’s leadership, including Mayor Solomzi Ndwayana and Speaker Zukisa Jovela, were among the guests at the do.

Dacre Haddon, Democratic Alliance MPL responsible for local government, has also joined the chorus of people decrying the event.

Haddon wants the responsible official to be criminally charged and made to repay the costs incurred by Amathole.

“I have written to the MEC for Local Government, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, and asked him to explain why this happened and what action he intends taking against the individuals concerned,” he said.

“In terms of Section 173(3) of the Municipal Finance Management Act, an official is guilty of an offence if he, while exercising financial management responsibilities, contravenes deliberately or negligently any condition of the delegation.”

The painting of the pub was part of the “67 minutes” campaign in which South Africans dedicated the time to doing good on behalf of former president Nelson Mandela on his birthday. The multi-storey wood and cement structure used to house the old Peddie Hotel, but was converted into privately owned flats, an eatery and a tavern.

“The ethos of Mandela Day is to take action to make the world a better place. The message of Mandela Day, and indeed every day, should be that all of us should be nurturing and empowering our fellow citizens from poverty to prosperity,” Haddon added.

“The painting of a privately-owned tavern from municipal funds as part of a Mandela Day action is fruitless and wasteful expenditure and fails to uplift the Peddie community in any way. Such action is inappropriate and insensitive to the aim of community service and is an insult to the high values and integrity of our father, Tata Nelson Mandela.”

Amathole spokesperson Gail Pullen confirmed the incident had led to Gaba’s suspension.

“He was placed on precautionary suspension with full pay last Thursday pending an investigation into the incident. So right now, there is no further information until the process, including a possible disciplinary hearing, is concluded,” said Pullen.

Gaba, the municipality’s land, human settlements and local economic development director, confirmed the suspension, but refused to comment any further, except to say an explanation would be made available in due course.

Qoboshiyane hit back at Haddon, saying his office would not be “forced” to prematurely act on situation.

“I strongly believe the matter should be directed to the municipal manager of Amathole District Municipality and he should be allowed to properly investigate it.

“Any insinuation or attempt to force me and my department to act on this matter while the municipality has not even concluded its own processes, undermines the leadership of the mayor, Speaker and manager of Amathole,” said Qoboshiyane.

Amathole’s official Mandela Day event was held at Fort Beaufort and was attended by council mayor Nomasikizi Khonza and municipal manager Vuyo Mlokoti, who have distanced the municipality from the painting event. — sabelos@dispatch.