THE DA in the Eastern Cape has accused Local Government MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane of misusing public funds by taking money meant for municipalities to pay for the ANC councillors’ gathering in East London last week.

Although the invitation to all mayors, chief whips and speakers suggested that it was a workshop for all councillors, the invitation was only passed on to ANC councillors.

At the workshop they were warned by Qoboshiyane that the party could lose control of Nelson Mandela Bay to the DA if its councillors did not shape up, stop fighting and start delivering.

He was speaking to 1 050 ANC councillors from all Eastern Cape municipalities about the worrying state of local government in the province.

None of the 45 Eastern Cape municipalities received a clean audit from Auditor-General Terence Nombembe. The ANC controls 44 municipalities.

DA leader of the legislature Bobby Stevenson said none of the DA councillors were invited. “This is a scandalous misuse of taxpayers’ money. It’s an outrageous abuse of power and shows the ANC has totally lost the plot when it comes to distinguishing between party and government activities.

“If this whole gathering was paid for at the taxpayers’ expense, it illustrates exactly why an angry public is fed-up with the ANC,” Stevenson said.

“State resources from cash-strapped municipalities cannot be gobbled up by the ANC when there is a crying need for service delivery in the province”.

Stevenson estimated the entire event, at the East London Convention Centre, including accommodation for all councillors, cost about R4-million.

Qoboshiyane said the meeting was called to urge municipalities to speed up service delivery and engage councillors on the enormous challenges.

“[It] was to address particular issues pointed [out] to the ANC councillors. This meeting wasn’t a congregation of ANC structures as punted.”

He said the AG’s report indicated there was no compliance from municipalities and this had to be stopped.

“There is nothing untoward with us meeting with ANC councillors, who are the majority in municipalities. To show transparency of this, we opened the entire meeting to journalists, something that is not done in ANC meetings.”