East London - Eastern Cape local government MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane on Wednesday dismissed suggestions that a recent provincial councillors' workshop was an abuse of taxpayers' money.

The workshop in East London was called to urge municipalities to speed up service delivery, he said.

“The purpose of the workshop was to engage councillors on (the) enormous challenges facing municipalities.”

Qoboshiyane was reacting to a Democratic Alliance accusation that over R4 million of taxpayers' money was abused for the ANC councillors' gathering on April 29.

“This is a scandalous misuse of taxpayers' money. It's an outrageous abuse of power and shows that the ANC has totally lost the plot when it comes to distinguishing between what is a party activity and a government activity,” DA leader in the provincial legislature Bobby Stevenson said.

Qoboshiyane said the meeting was attended by councillors from municipalities led by the ANC and was aimed at improving service delivery.

None of the 45 Eastern Cape municipalities received a clean audit from Auditor General Terence Nombembe. The ANC controls 44 municipalities.

“It was not a talk-shop. Councillors were told to comply with the auditor general's report and to employ officials who are qualified for the job.”

He said he had also held meetings with the DA in his capacity as MEC and there had never been an outcry.

“I met (with the) DA caucus in Kouga - an ANC-led municipality - and also I had a meeting with DA leaders asking for the bailout of the DA-led Baviaans municipality.”

He said a support team had been sent to Baviaans to rescue the municipality as part of the bailout package.

The AG report indicated there was no compliance in municipalities in the province.

“This cannot be allowed to continue, it had to stop.

“Some municipalities have improved and others are still at disclaimer level,” Qoboshiyane said.

Stevenson said no DA councillors were invited to the event.

The invitation to the workshop was addressed to executive mayors, mayors, speakers, chief whips, and the SA Local Government Association (Salga) chairman in the Eastern Cape. - Sapa