It said it had learnt that acting municipal manager Thumelo Ratau was to be made acting chief financial officer (CFO) 20 days after his appointment. Democratic Alliance councillor Sonja Boshoff said he would be replaced by Gilbert Nkosi.
The local African National Congress caucus would be informed of the decision later on Tuesday so it could be ratified at the next council sitting, she said. Co-operative governance spokesman Simphiwe Kunene said: “We must dismiss those assertions by the DA. We indicate clearly that this is grandstanding.
“We have an obligation as a department and provincial government to support all municipalities. We have not failed in our task. We just sent this team around two weeks back.” A Sapa correspondent reported on September 27 that an administrative support team had been sent to prevent the total collapse of the municipality.
While the municipality had been placed under administration twice in the past eight years, this time it had been decided to send in a support team.
Premier David Mabuza’s spokesman Zibonele Mncwango said at the time: “The municipality will not be placed under administration. However, the provincial government will dispatch an administrative team to beef up the administration of the municipality which is now close to total collapse.”
Kunene said the team comprised different experts. The department’s assessment found Ratau to be a financial expert and a qualified chartered accountant. “In our assessment he would better placed as a CFO due to his technical expertise, and also due to the financial challenges faced by the municipality,” he said.
“This would strengthen the team sent to the municipality.” The team had already put in place systems which had resulted in the municipality being able to increase electricity payment rates, helping settle the municipality’s electricity bill.
Boshoff said it was clear Mabuza, MEC Simon Skhosana and the provincial government had failed to bring transparent, accountable government to the municipality. “It is becoming increasingly clear that the provincial government has no answer for the governance crisis in Thaba Chweu,” she said.
The DA called on Skhosana to clarify and provide residents with the reasons behind the changes. The only remaining answer was for the provincial government to admit their collective failure and dissolve the council and declare fresh elections.
The Mpumalanga government said on Monday Eskom had agreed to keep the lights on in the municipality, despite its R163 million debt. Skhosana and Thaba Chweu mayor Michael Ncongwane met the electricity distributor on Friday. It was agreed that the municipality would pay off the debt over the next 12 months. Eskom agreed to conduct a cable audit to determine any illegal connections.
The municipality has been facing problems since 2005 when it was first placed under administration.