Civil society organisations and the DA in the Makana Council have red-flagged Sarah Baartman Municipality’s failure to second its Municipal Manager Ted Pillay to Grahamstown. The Concerned Citizens to Save Makana Group says the municipality’s citizens have been misled and have announced a rally outside the city hall on Saturday morning. However the Sarah Baartman Mayor says there is nothing untoward in Pillay’s absence from Makana up to now.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the CCSM said representing diverse sections of the community in Makana, they had come together since June 2017 to engage with various tiers of government to try and resolve the problems that face Makana Municipality.
“In light of two failed Administrators in Makana from October 2014 to July 2016, CCCSM requested full administration under s139 (1)(c ) and dissolution of the Council,” the statement signed by chairperson Ron Weissenberg said.
Weissenberg described the group’s engagement with the Office of the Premier through Zandisile Qupe, in which he said a promise had been made to engage a turnaround specialist by 1 December 2017.
“Without warning, at a Special council meeting on 24th November the Executive Mayor of Makana, Nomhle Gaga, produced a letter addressed from her to MEC Fikile Xasa. It states that Makana officials met Sarah Baartman District Municipality and it was resolved that the SBDM manager, Ted Pillay, would be seconded to Makana for 3 months,” Weissenberg said.
Grocott’s Mail has a copy of the letter which is a response to Cogta MEC Fikile Xasa’s threat to put Makana under administration.
“Enquiries of Sarah Baartman DM reveal no evidence that such a meeting or agreement was reached. Citizens of Makana have been seriously misled and let down,” Weissenberg said. “Grahamstown faces a crisis of mismanagement and overwhelming debt. CCSM were promised a course of action that would have started to address the crisis, but Makana council have sabotaged that possibility.”
In response to questions from Grocott’s Mail, Sarah Baartman Mayor Eunice Kekana said, “We are fully aware of the request from Makana. However, we cannot just make the decision to second Ted Pillay. We must submit a motion to Council for approval.”
The next District Municipality Council meeting would be on 24 January, Kekana said.
“Whatever discussions took place at the time… Ted Pillay had a bereavement on his return from China.”
Spokesperson for the DA’s Makana caucus Mlindi Nhanha said while their DA representative in Sarah Baartman had confirmed that the matter was never tabled in any council meeting, they had held an emergency conference call early this morning and had resolved to give Gaga the benefit of the doubt.
“We are worried. If these allegations prove true… deceiving a legislative body is a serious offence,” Nhanha said.
The Concerned Citizens group, an alliance that includes the Grahamstown Business Forum and Grahamstown Residents Association, called on residents to join them outside the City Hall at 9am Saturday 13 January.