Tshwarelo Hunter Mogakane
The DA has written to Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka, asking her to investigate allegations that councillors from Mkhondo Local Municipality in Mpumalanga blew R1 million on a Durban July “workshop”.
“Over the last weekend, the municipality spent R200 000 transporting 66 people to Durban from Piet Retief to attend this ‘Strategic Planning Workshop’. They spent a further R670 500 on accommodation. This is nothing more than fruitless and wasteful expenditure,” said the DA caucus leader in the Mkhondo council, Irene Brussow.
Brussow said the trip involved relatives and spouses.
“It was also revealed by a reliable source that some councillors even took their family members and spouses on this joyride at the expense of the taxpayer. The DA condemns this act of wasting taxpayers’ money. Not a single DA councillor in Mkhondo attended this workshop as they did not want to support such wasteful expenditure. This money could have been used to provide services for our people,” she said.
Analyst Dr John Molepo condemned the expenditure.
“The nation watched in shame as photos of the councillors trended on social media. You could see crass opulence and decadence from people expected to lift people out of poverty and squalor. That was totally unacceptable. I hope the responsible provincial government department will deal with them harshly,” said Molepo.
The Mkhondo Local Municipality, based in Piet Retief, has been a source of controversy over the past year.
In January, the council leadership announced the axing of 11 councillors who had absconded from work, missing several sittings.
Currently, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Mandla Ndlovu is in court defending his decision to inform the Electoral Commission of South Africa about six vacancies created after the suspension of councillors at the same municipality.
Council spokesperson Robert Bheka did not respond to questions around the dismissals and suspension of councillors, and the controversial Durban trip.
Public Protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe has not confirmed whether Gcaleka had received the DA letter or not.