A specialist executive administrator is to be appointed to run the failed and broke Makana Municipality which owes millions of rands to entities such as Eskom, Amatola Water and other service providers and suppliers.
Although details remained sketchy yesterday, news of the appointment has been welcomed.
The move comes after several months of engagement between concerned citizens and local, provincial and national government structures, said Concerned Citizens Committee to Save Makana (CCCSM) convener Ron Weissenberg.
The CCCSM represents the committees and membership of the Grahamstown Residents’ Association, Grahamstown Business Forum and the Makana Unity League that have joined forces out of concern for the decaying city infrastructure and poor municipal management.
In the past decade, Grahamstown’s decrepit water and sanitation infrastructure has seen massive water outages and uncontrolled raw sewage leaks. The poorly managed municipal rubbish dump has also caused health concerns.
Weissenberg said the appointment has been facilitated through the office of premier Phumulo Masualle.
“The administrator is scheduled to commence duties as soon as Thursday subject to the conclusion of statutory formalities with the Makana council,” said Weissenberg.
He said CCCSM had been assured that the appointed administrator would be a capable leader with a track record of turnaround successes.
“Details of his mandate, powers and levels of authority will be forthcoming as soon as possible. The CCCSM will be engaged in ensuring the administrator is suitably sanctioned to carry out the immediate and future interventions necessary for the sustainability of our municipality.”
Amatola Water which, since 2014, stepped in as the municipality’s bulk water service provider, left the city last month because the municipality owed it more than R40-million. The DA has expressed concern as it says the municipality lacked the capacity to resume the responsibility.
Makana DA caucus leader Mlindi Nhanha recently warned that the municipality had also repeatedly defaulted on its payment plan to quash its R33-million debt to Eskom and estimated that by the end of next month, this bill would have inflated to some R77-million.
This is the second time that Makana has been placed under the care of an administrator.
Pam Yako – who was paid a phenomenal R327882 a month for a three-day work week for the duration of her nine-month contract – left in 2015.
She acknowledged the intervention had failed to address vital challenges, including massive debt, the decaying infrastructure, vacancies at senior management level and its inability to collect municipal debt.
Makana Municipality has not had a permanent municipal manager since former Pravin Naidoo was fired more than three years ago. Municipal spokeswoman Yoliswa Ramakola was not available for comment.
lSee Opinion, page 7