Thabazimbi Municipality responds to protest march

THABAZIMBI – Citizens and community leaders from Regorogile held a protest march on Tuesday 3 July to Thabazimbi Municipal offices against corruption and poor service delivery. The loud but organised protest march was lead by non-political leaders from the Regorogile community.

The response of the Thabazimbi Municipality on all the matters raised in the protestor’s memorandum, are as follows:

“At the outset, it is of critical significance to appreciate the community for raising grievances/concerns with the municipality but the Municipality is strongly against use of prohibited language and gestures by community members when engaged in mass actions.

The municipality’s responses on the grievances/concerns raised by the community are as follows:

1. Water: Quality water to be provided by the municipality: Thabazimbi Municipality is a water services authority and its primary mandate is to ensure that water provided to communities is suitable for human consumption. The fact that the municipality attained low ranking in terms of blue/green drop evaluations does not in any way give conclusion that water provided by the municipality is not suitable for human consumption. Whilst the municipality is aware of the ageing water infrastructure, water provided by the municipality is suitable for human consumption.

Placing of temporary JoJo tanks at Ext. 3, 5 and Skierlik: It is the objective of the municipality to ensure that there are minimal interruptions on the supply of water within all areas in the municipal jurisdiction, however the community comprehend that the infrastructure meant to ensure that the supply of water is seldom interrupted has aged and warrant immediate replacement. Financial constraints to invest in this mega project of infrastructure upgrade are a major hindrance towards achievement of the mentioned goals.

Efforts are being made by the municipality to ensure that water is uninterrupted in Regorogile Ext.3 and 5 through Pump station and water reticulation upgrade project amounting to R5.7million appropriated through the 2011/12 adjustment budget in a quest to address the problem. The community would realise that there has been steady and continuous supply of water in affected areas of Regorogile during the past month or so and we can confidently state that the famine of water in Regorogile is a thing of the past. It is in the light of these new developments that no jojo tanks will be installed in the Regorogile ext.3 and 5. Furthermore, the municipality provides water with water tankers during the interruptions in the water supply.

As for the community of Skierlik, studies are underway to investigate the possibility of digging a borehole to ensure supply of water to the community. In the meantime, water tankers are sent to the area continuously to ensure that each household enjoy their right of access to water. Hence, no water tanker is to be installed in Skierlik as well

* Day to day running of water in all extensions:  The challenge has been addressed and through the R5.7 million projects mentioned above, the municipality has been able to ensure that there is less interruption of water in the areas concerned.

* Flat rate:  whilst the Municipality comprehends the burden of paying for services on consumers, consideration is also given to the cost of providing these particular services. The municipality cannot just implement a flat rate without a proper analysis of the ageing of the current debt and the collectability ratios concerned.

The community can be rest assured that the high amounts of outstanding consumer debts are a major concern to the municipality and processes are in place to ensure that the pandemic is mitigated if not eradicated.

Consequently, your demand for a flat rate across the board is summarily rejected.

2. Electricity

Vending Machine: The municipality has engaged Landis + Gyr, who are the providers of the cash-power prepaid electricity system for the upgrade of the system to ensure adequate remote vending machines, are in place after office hours. The municipality is at this stage, unable to provide a clear indication as to when will the process reach fruition, as negotiations with the service provider are still ongoing.

Customers who are utilising the Grinpal smart metering prepaid system have access to three 24-hour vending machines available in Regorogile 2, Community Services Office and municipality’s main office. It is the intention of the municipality to increase vending machines and also to explore possibilities of selling electricity through retail outlets.

Removal of Grinpal Energy Management: The municipality has a contract with the service provider to manage the smart metering electricity system and the municipality is of the view that the service provided by the company are of an acceptable standard. However, the municipality would appreciate any community member coming forth with evidence of poor services and there will not be any hesitation in dealing with the matter even if it means removing the service provider.

3. Real 24 hours of Service

The municipality wish to point out that the ‘real 24 hours of service’ referred to in the memorandum is not clear and the municipality did not want to pre-empt what the script-writer of the memorandum intended to arrive at. However, the municipality provides 24-hour service only on emergencies such as water/electricity interruption, sewer problems, traffic emergencies and accidents, fire and rescue as well as disaster management. All these services are available on standby lines, which are believed to be known to the public.

The community members are also at liberty to contact the municipality in instances where the numbers for any of the services rendered after hours are not known.

4. Employment of Mines

The mines in conjunction with the municipal Council agreed that all ward Councilors submit list of possible/potential candidates for employment in the mines to the co-ordinator appointed by Council. The lists are then submitted to the mines and the mine, as and when they require staff, follow the sequence of the lists submitted by the municipality though the co-ordinator in terms of the proportion agreed upon.

The community members are more than welcome to contact the mines, through a representative, to confirm the process.

The municipality does not see a need to remove the co-ordinator or change the current procedure/system as the system currently utilised is commended by the mines, as it is fair, equitable and transparent.

5. Council (PMT and EXCO)

The community would realise that the composition of the PMT and EXCO are a competency of the full sitting of Council after thorough consultation with the governing Party as per the results of the municipal elections held in 2011.

As it is, there is little that can be done from the municipality’s side to amend the situation as you deem fit because the Councilors were elected by the masses in a democratic elections. Hence, they are public representatives and are serving the municipality with distinction despite being pensioners.

In terms of the general request for the removal of Councilors, the community is referred to the provisions of section 27 of municipal structures act, which sets out criteria for vacation of office for councilors.

6. Appointment of Municipal Manager

Award of tender: Advocate Ntsoane was appointed to train newly inaugurated Council and was appointed through normal supply chain management processes. The municipality did not know at that point that Advocate Ntsoane would apply for the position of the municipal manager when advertised.

Hence, there is no co-relation between the appointment of Advocate Ntsoane as a Municipal Manager and the award for training made prior to his appointment.

Fruitless and wasteful expenditure during Advocate Ntsoane’s tenure as Corporate Services Manager: The Council does not have any evidence of the allegations made by the Community and hence regard the allegations as baseless and malicious.

Reviews of Managers’ salaries: The municipality strives to be an employer of choice and offering attractive salary packages to senior management and other employees is one of the measures put in place to attract the rare skill requisite in senior managers. The attractive packages are within financial abilities of the municipality, of course.

The reviews are conducted on an annual basis and the ones for 2012/13 will be conducted during the course of this financial year.

7. Refuse Removal

The municipality acknowledges that there are continuous disruptions in terms of refuse removal due to worn out fleet utilised to collect refuse at different points. The municipality is in the process of procuring fleet that will augment the current number so as to improve on the collection. Furthermore, priority will be given to township areas to ensure that they are environmentally viable for human inhabitation.

During the Mandela Day celebrations of 18 July 2012, a cleaning campaign was conducted in Matikiring section of Regorogile and the place was brought to an acceptable level of hygiene. The community is also encouraged to take responsibility to ensure that there is no littering in their areas of inhabitation.

8. Sports Facilities and Multipurpose Centre

The municipality endeavours to promote sports and participation in activities of community building. This is evident through the facilities that the municipality has constructed over the years to benefit the community. It is unfortunate that the facilities cannot be made available to the community at no charge because of the excessive costs involved in the repairs and maintenance of the facilities.

The correct procedure for utilisation of the facilities is through a booking system developed by the municipality and a payment of a fee determined by the Municipal Council prior permission to use the facilities.

9. Awarding tenders

The municipality has a zero tolerance on fraud and corruption. We encourage any community member knowing of or suspecting any wrongdoing within the municipality to report the matter to judicial structures in terms of the constitution. The cases can be reported to SAPS, Public Protector, Auditor General, presidential hotline, and other relevant chapter 9 institutions.

The municipality is currently in the process of conducting skills and qualifications audit and it is only upon the receipt of the final report when the matter will be given attention if prompted by the report.

It is the endeavour of the municipality to ensure that local entrepreneurs are developed and empowered. The municipality agrees with the community and shall ensure that systems are put in place to ensure local economic development.

10. IDP Programs

Chapter 4 of the municipal systems act requires the municipality to communicate with the community through the public participation processes and as far as possible, the municipality afford community members adequate platform to speak during public participation.

In peroration, the municipality and its council endeavours to ensure better life for all who live in it through provision of quality services. It is through positive criticism that the municipality will improve its level of commitment towards the betterment of the lives of our people.”

The community leaders who held the march haven’t yet approved the response of the Municipality, although the Mayor and the SAPS Thabazimbi both committed to the document.