Development underway to build the City of uMhlathuze mayoral house for Mayor Mduduzi Mhlongo at an estimated R20 million, says DA Councillor in uMhlathuze, Christo Botha. Picture: Supplied/ Christo Botha

Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the City of uMhlathuze said that it has written to the municipal manager seeking answers about the source of funding for the mayoral mansion project, and was questioning why has it not been communicated to the council and the public.

DA Councillor in uMhlathuze, Christo Botha, said that the cash-strapped City of Umhlathuze, about 180 kilometres north-east of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, will be spending an estimated R20 million on a mansion for its mayor Mduduzi Mhlongo. He said that construction of the mansion is underway at the Meer En See suburb, where clearing on the 4 470 square metre property has begun.

Botha said that what was of concern was that the matter and its support resolutions were not brought to council for proper deliberation and engagement.

"The land has been zoned as High-Density Residential 3 and has an estimated worth of R5 to R6.5 million. A further concern is that the development notice says the clearing is intended for municipal housing and no mention of the fact that the mayor’s mansion is to be erected," Botha said.

"If this plot was used correctly with the cash injection of the R20 million, a public-private partnership could see the development of 40 to 65 residential apartments valued at anything R450 000 to R600 000 each, providing an added cash injection to the city of R29 million to R39 million. 

"Money that can be reinvested in social housing or the city's health care, monies that can be injected into youth business development or a booster injection to fixing the city’s infrastructure."

The R6.5 million tender for the construction of municipal housing was awarded to Sthombe Contracts Supplies and Projects on 1 December 2017 for being the lowest responsive tenderer with the highest contender score that complies fully with all the technical requirements.

Botha said the City of Umhlathuze has its priorities skewed and seems to care more about sustaining the lavish lifestyle of politicians than the communities that voted them in.

But City of uMhlathuze spokesperson Mdu Ncalane dismissed Botha's statement as "malicious" and "a huge misrepresentation of facts".

Ncalane said that the municipal housing project was approved as per the Government Gazette of 29 January 2014 regulating councillors' tools of trade and subsequently approved by the council back in 2014/2015 financial year. 

"The City of uMhlathuze is shocked by the thumb-sucked amount mentioned by Councillor Botha, who is clearly not competent in construction matters, and views this as his way to score political points with outside parties instead of consulting his Council official documents containing all factual information about this project," Ncalane said.

"People who are short-sighted may perceive the municipal house as a private residence for the incumbent Mayor whereas the reality is that Mayors serve their terms and they vacate the office. The municipal house will remain a municipal house regardless who the incumbent is and or whichever political party he or she may come from."

Ncalane said that the City of uMhlathuze which has maintained clean audits for five consecutive years, was progressing well in driving development and economic growth for its people.

African News Agency/ANA