The DA in Dihlabeng said on Friday it was taken by surprise to see a video of the controversial mayor of the embattled Dihlabeng Local Municipality, Lindiwe Makhalema, in Brazil, planting a tree, while the municipality was facing looming scheduled blackouts due to a breach in its payment agreement with Eskom to settle its R190 million bulk electricity debt.
Makhalema became briefly famous earlier this year for claiming in an ANC Facebook group that President Cyril Ramaphosa was a sellout.
The ANC Free State provincial executive committee briefly suspended her for it. She was made to apologise publicly to the president for the comment after being found guilty by a disciplinary committee, despite initially claiming she would not and was willing to be fired for her view.
She has been back in action since mid-July.
The DA has now accused her of using the latest Brazil trip to have fun overseas, possibly at the expense of the public.
DA councillor Jafta Mokoena alleges that council speaker David Lengoabala pushed through an addendum in council seeking approval for the international trip during a previous meeting.
“It was made clear that the trip to Brazil would be funded by sponsors. However, we demanded that the sponsors first be made known and the amounts pledged to be declared prior to such approval.
“The DA is convinced that the trip to Brazil was undertaken to spite council for having successfully refused to approve a trip to Portugal and Switzerland last month,” said Mokoena.
“While the people of Dihlabeng have to contend with poor to non-existent service delivery under the failed governance of the ANC, as well as the looming scheduled electricity blackouts, Councillor Makhalema chooses to go on a holiday under the pretence of fostering bilateral ties with the Brazilian Mococa Municipality. The DA is of the strong view that any such bilateral ties should only be fostered once governance, financial management and service delivery in Dihlabeng have been corrected in line with best practice.”
He said they would demand full disclosure of who paid for the trip of the mayor, the speaker and others, during which the highlight was apparently the planting of a tree.
Take a look at the video of her planting the tree: