FINANCES of the Central Karoo District Municipality and its mayor, Gayton McKenzie, are now the subject of a probe by the Office of the Public Protector.
Weekend Argus can reveal that the South African Communist Party (SACP) submitted a lengthy complaint detailing sordid allegations against the beleaguered municipality which is run by a bockety ANC-led coalition with McKenzie’s Patriotic Alliance.
Chief among the SACP’s complaints was the fact that McKenzie “misled the public“ about not drawing a salary from the municipality while his bank records ”clearly“ showed otherwise.
But McKenzie rubbished this claim, stating: “A special account has been opened because by law they have to pay me, I in turn appointed a team to make sure money is being spent on charity.”
He added: “I will ask for a list and amount to give what is being spent so far.” By the time of going to print, McKenzie have not furnished the publication with the so-called “list”.
The SACP in its letter listed about 15 allegations against McKenzie and the council that range from the irregular suspension of senior managements and the subsequent irregular appointment of acting managers to flagging a fundraising gala McKenzie organised in May for the municipality.
The letter, signed by the SACP’s Central Karoo spokesperson, Siyabulela Tom, reads: “Mr McKenzie has misrepresented and undermined municipal legislative processes by suspending senior administration leadership of the municipality, the municipal manager, Dr SW Vatala, and Mr MR Abdullah, chief financial officer, based on reasons that are bordering on wanting to shove them out of the way.”
This was allegedly to pave the way to bring in acting municipal personnel, who in turn, would ensure that rampant corruption can go ahead “plain sailing”.
“The unlawful and irregular suspensions, influenced by amongst other reasons, their refusal to cancel the risk basis appointment of a company called Networks on a Local Government Sector Education Training Authority supported programme, as they wanted to award the bid to businesses linked to their own friends and party linked companies,” the letter added.
“The mayor raised funds of around R3 million in the name of the CKDM and the municipalities of Beaufort West, Laingsburg and Prince Albert by hosting a Central Karoo Fundraiser on the 21 May 2022 at the Sandton Hotel in Sandton.”
The fundraiser, according to the SACP, was never sanctioned by the municipality. And the funds? That apparently vanished into thin air.
“The funds were never declared to the municipality and not paid into the primary account of the municipality as required (by law).”
The SACP further alleged that the Central Karoo District municipal councillors had been in breach of other municipal regulatory processes.
In response to this, a riled-up McKenzie said: “What allegation informs such a question -- what wrong have I been accused of?”
According to the SACP McKenzie had also “wilfully and deliberately lied to” and ”misled” a “whole nation” via Facebook and Twitter posts that he created 3500 jobs within 100 days and that he had fixed between 6000 and 8000 potholes at no cost to the municipality.
“He was making use of municipal employees, vehicles and materials ... He has not even rid four complete streets of potholes,” the SACP said.
“It is the same lies and cheating he has fed the country about the Central Karoo not having bread, PPE and going days without water. We therefore wish to submit that the mayorship of Mr Gayton McKenzie has been based on lies, cheating, abuse of power and maladministration.”
The party also said: “The office of the public protector investigates the manner and conduct of both the mayor and the municipal council of the CKDM on how they disrupt service delivery processes and how they are deliberately flouting legislative processes in how they deliberate on and resolve decisions.”
The public protector’s spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, said the complaint had been received and would be probed.
Earlier this month the DA also dramatically ripped into McKenzie and his claim that bucket system toilets had been eradicated.
The party’s Matlhodi Maseko said they found that as many as 108 households in the municipality still had the bucket toilet system.
In a separate letter, also signed by Tom, the SACP gave McKenzie four working days to present to the police the evidence and names of those he knows to be corrupt among his coalition partners and in the municipality.
It also wants McKenzie to lay criminal charges against them.
The SACP further demanded that McKenzie cancel the suspensions of senior managers of Central Karoo and Beaufort West municipalities.
“Failing to do this will lead to the SACP Central Karoo calling for rolling mass action against you and your coalition partners.”