By ROD AMNER
Ward 4 residents were stood up for the second time by Makana Municipality (MM) Speaker Mthuthuzeli Matyumza as they convened to elect their ward committee on the evening of Tuesday 1 March.
Around 35 participants at the Tuesday meeting expressed their frustration with the no show.
When asked why the Speaker had failed to arrive at the 1 March ward committee meetings, Anele Mjekula said, “the schedule had been changed”. Please note that the revised schedule can be found below.
MM published an official notice of the ward committee election meetings on its social media platforms. The MM communications office sent Grocott’s Mail a detailed schedule of venues and times published in last Friday’s GMDirect.
Ward 4 Democratic Alliance councillor Geoff Embling confirmed that councillors received an email from the manager of the Speaker’s Office on 1 March 2022 at 3.23 pm, providing a revised schedule for ward committee meetings. However, the email was sent two hours before the proposed time of the Ward 4 committee meeting and was not seen by the three councillors who attended the meeting or by the public.
It subsequently emerged that the MM could not deliver pamphlets because of “no cars”.
The first Ward 4 committee nomination meeting was scheduled for 22 February, but according to Makana Citizens Front (MCF) proportional representation councillor Jonathan Walton, the meeting “didn’t occur because there were no rules to guide the meeting”.
Ward 4 councillor Geoff Embling detailed the steps that led to the abandonment of the first meeting.
“By law, the municipality should advertise the meeting and distribute leaflets. I was contacted by a municipal official and asked to fetch a box containing printed leaflets. I then distributed the leaflets on behalf of the municipality and advertised the meeting on several Ward 4 WhatsApp groups,” Embling said.
A few hours before the meeting, Embling was informed that the Speaker was unavailable to chair the meeting and had decided to cancel it. Embling contacted the Speaker and asked to appoint another chairperson, as the meeting had already been advertised and ward committee policy does not stipulate that the Speaker has to chair the meeting.
“The Speaker obliged, and the meeting went ahead with another chairperson. During the meeting, certain residents expressed concern that the municipality had not advertised the meeting sufficiently, and a majority voted in favour of postponing it,” Embling said.
Subsequently, the MM sent out a notice with a list of dates and venues for ward committee meetings, which Grocott’s received via email from the municipality’s communications office.
Embling checked with the Speaker on the morning of the 1 March Ward 4 committee meeting to ascertain whether he would be chairing the meeting. The Speaker said that he would not be available and would check with the office. Embling said at least 35 attendees turned up at the Recreation Hall, “a good turnout compared to previous years, but no chairperson or municipal officials were present”.
The Speaker was phoned just after 5.30 pm and asked to send a chairperson and municipal official to oversee the meeting. He suggested contacting the manager of the Speaker’s office, who then said that all available municipal officials were at Seven Fountains at the time and that the meeting should be postponed because ward committee rules require a municipal official to be present.
On Wednesday, 3 March, the Speaker convened a Zoom meeting for all ward councillors where an official explained that the MM could not distribute pamphlets because of “no cars”.
When asked why the dates of the ward committee meetings had been changed, a municipal official claimed that the communications department advertised what was given to it and that no information detailing the dates of ward committee meetings was sent out.
At the failed meeting, MCF proportional representation councillor Lungile Mxube said it was clear that the meeting had been “deliberately sabotaged” because “the ANC wants to have control of everything”.
On behalf of the Council, he apologised to the citizens present for the inconvenience suffered.
Mxube said ward committees are “a critical structure for oversight of the municipality”.
The Ward 4 committee elections have been rescheduled for 5.30 pm on Monday 7 March at the Recreation Hall in Albany Road.
The revised ward committee election schedule