Piet Retief - The mayor of Mkhondo local municipality (Piet Retief) in the Mpumalanga province has denied using exorbitant public funds for a trip to the Durban July and for his birthday party over the weekend.
Mthokozisi Simelane, the unlikely youthful mayor of the small and largely agricultural municipality nestled along the South Africa-eSwatini border, came to power after ANC factions could not agree on their own candidate - and he was voted in.
On Monday Simelane’s name and pictures of him posing with expensive alcohol were all over social media. It was alleged that together with some municipal officials and councillors, they planned and arranged a strategic workshop in the coastal city of Durban, South Africa’s party ground.
NEWS: The Mayor of Umkhondo local municipality (Piet Retief) in Mpumalanga province has denied allegations that he used public money for a trip to the Durban July over the weekend. Mthokozisi Simelane claims that he used his own money for his birthday bash. @IOL pic.twitter.com/UXvFFijrdE— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) July 4, 2022
That was allegedly done to coincide with the Durban July fun so that the municipality could fully fund the trip, hotel accommodation, meals and transport as an official expense.
The note which was posted on social media claimed that the mayor, his partner and friends were having the times of their lives using state funds while the municipality is in the dark and without water for days.
“Mkhondo local municipality council party in Durban while citizens are left in the dark and without water… Mthokozisi Simelane and the MLM council members are on an alleged … R700 000 ‘strategic planning workshop’ in Durban, KZN, from 29 June 2022 until 1 July 2022.
“This happened while MLM (Mkhondo local municipality) still owes Eskom R341 million and have not been paying their monthly account,” read part of the note.
But Simelane denies all this, claiming it’s a smear campaign as his birthday was not even celebrated in Durban.
“The allegations are not true, On Saturday it was just my birthday which was celebrated in uMfolozi, not in Durban, not even (a) cent of the municipality’s money was spent on, basically it was private life,” Simelane said when he was confronted by IOL regarding the damaging allegations of misuse of public money.
He did not explain why such a workshop was even moved outside Mpumalanga province where they are based and where there are facilities that could have well hosted them for their workshop.