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Tough job to fix the chaos in Makana

Makana's new administrator, Pam Yako, is somewhat anxious at the task she faces turning around the municipality’s maladministration, financial chaos, and infrastructural decay.

The province last month placed the floundering Makana municipality under Section 139 1(b) administration. Yako was belatedly introduced to the public and councillors at a special Makana council meeting yesterday, which was also her first day on the job.

Already, concerns have been raised that her six-month appointment as administrator – which she yesterday admitted would not involve a five-day week commitment – would not be enough time to turn around the failed municipality.

Outlining the enormous task she faced due to the massive institutional failure under his watch, executive mayor Zamuxolo Peter admitted Yako had to find a cure-all for pot-holed roads, collapsed infrastructure, chronic water and electrical outages, failed revenue collection, corruption, massive litigation against the municipality, and general financial chaos – which had resulted in three consecutive years of disclaimers from the auditor-general.

“We welcome the administrator unconditionally and assure her we, the politicians, will give her the space she needs to execute her job.”

He said the municipality owed creditors some R132-million. At the same time the municipality had failed to collect more than R199-million owed to it. “There are some tough decisions to make. We need a meaningful intervention that will change Makana forever.”

He said it required the realisation that one was running a statutory structure “not a spaza shop” and that law and regulation regulated their actions. They had all learnt from mistakes made. and he acknowledged the municipality was in such dire straits it had not budgeted for any capital project for the current financial year.

He guaranteed Yako there would be no political interference in the administrative process but said the challenges she faced would require more than six months. Addressing the packed council sitting, the softly spoken Yako said she was anxious at the extent of the work to be done.

“I am under no illusion that there is much to be done and time is of the essence.”

She said in the short-term she aimed to stabilise and address immediate issues but hoped to also set a foundation for longer-term sustainability. “The problems are not insurmountable but the journey will not be an easy one”.

The Democratic Alliance has raised serious concerns about Yako’s appointment

DA frontier constituency leader Andrew Whitfield, MP, recently said the controversial former director-general of water affairs, had been suspended and then fired in 2010 after the Auditor-General exposed more than R1-billion in irregular expenditure under her watch.

“Now that (Makana) has finally been placed under administration, the (Co-operative Governance) MEC (Fikile Xasa) sees it fit to appoint a civil servant who has a tainted track record of financial maladministration to fix a municipality that is in financial distress.”

Yako said she had retired from the public service and it had taken some “arm-twisting” to get her to head up Makana’s turnaround.

However, she added that she was honoured, privileged and up to the challenge.


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