Speaking out for the first time after last week’s protest march to his municipal offices, where insults were hurled at him and he was told to resign, the mayor of Umvoti local municipality says it's all sour grapes.
Philani "PG" Mavundla says the accusations levelled against him have no basis and they all have to do with politics and the fact that he is cleaning the rot in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands municipality.
NEWS: The Mayor of Umvoti (Greytown) local municipality has dismissed as sour grapes claims made by IFP marchers to the municipality last week who demanded his immediate removal. Addressing the media on Tuesday, Philani “PG” Mavundla, gave reasons why he reduced EPWP pic.twitter.com/piJCm6bvei— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) August 15, 2023
Mavundla was addressing the media in Greytown on Tuesday.
The address was to respond to 18 demands the protesters, who were mainly IFP members and supported by other political parties like the ANC, delivered to his office.
The ANC in the region disowned those who joined the march, saying they were not authorised by them since they are in a coalition with Mavundla’s party, the Abantu Batho Congress (ABC).
Among the grievances the marchers had against Mavundla was that he unilaterally stopped burial vouchers for the poor.
The vouchers were issued by the municipality to help the less privileged bury their loved ones with dignity.
"We have not stopped the issuing of vouchers, however, it must be noted that this practice is illegal because the municipality has a burial policy and it’s being applied incorrectly as there are people who don’t qualify for assistance because of their earnings. There is no method of control in place. Be that as it may, we have not stopped issuing these vouchers as yet. The digging of the graves is done by the municipality where people are buying grave sites at the KwaGijima cemetery," Mavundla said.
He added that during Covid-19, due to social distancing regulations, the municipal TLB was deployed to assist outside of the cemetery, and now that Covid-19 is no longer an issue, this has changed.
"We are no longer bound by these regulations. In addition, the municipality only has one TLB, which cannot cover 14 wards.
"This is not the function of any municipality and may amount to Fruitless and Wasteful Expenditure in terms of the MFMA," he added.
The marchers, led by Sibongiseni Shange, a former ABC member, claimed that Mavundla fired employees for being IFP members.
Mavundla denied that and said the only workers who lost their jobs were those with expired contracts.
On why he reduced the number of EPWP participants per ward from 20 to 9, Mavundla said that was all about the resources available and giving the participants decent salaries.
"The Department of Public Works has given Umvoti Municipality an allocation of R2,967,000
"By calculations, which I can make available, if we maintain 20 participants per ward with the allocated budget, then each person will be earning R883 per month," he said.
He added that giving the participants such salaries would amount to promoting slave wages under the programme.
"This is tantamount to slave labour and inconsistent with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the recently promulgated Minimum Wage Act. From the budget allocated and the gazetted beneficiary wages, each ward can only realistically have 7 people."
Mavundla also denied allegations by the IFP that he has pocketed R3 million from municipal coffers for personal use, saying the matter is now with his legal team.
‘In addition, my lawyers will be responding accordingly to these defamatory allegations."