By PHILIP MACHANICK
Three months ago, the legitimately elected MCF councillors were unlawfully removed. Have things in Makana since improved?
Ask yourself that – then read on.
First, there is the state of infrastructure.
The 2022 Blue Drop Progress Report shows Makana as having one of the worst-run water systems in the country. The Blue Drop Risk Rating (BDRR) is a measure of how accurately we know the quality of water. The higher the number, the less sure we can be that the water is any good. Makana overall has a BDRR of 89.1%, but this number is flattered by the relatively good scores of some of our smaller water plants. Alicedale and Riebeeck East score under 50% (this puts them in the low-risk category). Makhanda scores 95%, meaning we know almost nothing about how good our water is. It is in a list of 25 Eastern Cape systems in the Critical Risk category, with a rating of over 90%.
The elected MCF councillors were aware of the Blue Drop report only after we were unlawfully removed from council and haven’t been able to follow up with asking questions in council. But what about the rest of council? Why has no one reacted with shock and horror that we are amongst the worst-performing municipalities on such a critical infrastructure issue?
An even more dire picture emerges from the Green Drop report. Makana’s wastewater treatment plants score 9% on a scale where high numbers are good. A Green Drop audit score considers several factors, and anything below 31% is considered dysfunctional. 90% or above is considered excellent. I am not sure if there is a name for 9%. Shameful?
Again: where is the council on this issue?
You don’t need a Green Drop score to know our sewerage system is shamefully dysfunctional. Rampant, out-of-control leaks are particularly prevalent in areas where the poor live as the CBD and wealthier areas are more likely to get attention if someone complains. I occasionally join River Rescue to clean up around waterways. Aside from the filth of illegally dumped trash (the subject of a court order that has been minimally implemented), many of these streams are almost pure sewage.
Yet again: where is council?
Then there is the state of roads where many are more pothole than tar. The mayor no longer drives a Merc but a high-set 4×4. That is as much as the council has done about the dire state of the roads.
But where is the rest of council? What are they saying about roads, failed street lights, and all the other issues MCF highlighted in our manifesto?
I will tell you where council is: attempting to appoint senior managers without proper oversight.
The appointment of a new Chief Financial Officer was put to council with minimal notice, so the fact that she had faced criminal charges could not be properly debated in council.
Now the Municipal Manager post has been advertised almost at the end of Moppo Mene’s contract (which ends on 30 July). The closing date for the advertisement is 11 August. Is this incompetence or done with deliberate intent? This is an MM who has failed to produce a clean audit. On his watch, we have seen criminal activity like ghost workers and the massive theft of solar hot water systems, both of which were exposed by the late Parks and Recreation manager Jeff Budaza, who was murdered for exposing crimes. Why does a senior manager need to put his life at risk to be a whistleblower?
Other senior managers who know these matters are duty-bound to take action. The MM is the accounting officer. If he does not take responsibility and his contract is about to end, the council should move swiftly to find a replacement.
So what is council doing? It’s hard to know as there is no evidence of action or correction of poor service delivery and failing infrastructure. Even the newly-tarred roads in the CBD are coming apart because of water leaks, and there is no progress on resurfacing Ncame Street in Joza.
Makana needs a strong MCF more than ever. This is why the removed councillors are still looking for ways to overturn their unlawful removal. This is not easy without the financial resources to take the matter to court, but we have not given up. We can’t when conditions are so dire. We are committed to working for you, which is not a commitment we will give up. In the meantime, we will continue highlighting issues and taking up residents’ complaints to City Hall. But there is only so much you can do without seats in council.