A Limpopo municipality which invested more than R300 million in VBS Mutual Bank is on the brink of collapse after months of failing to deliver basic services to communities.
The Vhembe district municipality was identified by the national department of cooperative governance as one of 57 distressed and dysfunctional municipalities in the country.
Last year, it fired several managers, including its municipal manager and chief financial officer, who allegedly illegally invested municipal funds into VBS without following the Municipal Finance Management Act.
The beleaguered municipality is now unable to deliver services to communities because its coffers have run dry.
Yesterday, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) wrote to the executive committee member (MEC) for cooperative governance Basikopo Makamu, calling for his immediate intervention.
Makamu could better lead the process for the appointment of managers and directors, “who would then help to unlock delivery of services to communities”, said DA councillor Mashudu Marina yesterday.
“The municipality is on the brink of collapse. There is total shutdown of basic services. Our streets look like pigsties, projects are stalling and water supply is erratic.”
For the past three weeks, residents in Thohoyandou and Malamulele areas have allegedly been using shrubs and valleys as toilets after the region was rocked by water shortages following years of drought.
Clinics, hospitals, police stations and the Malamulele Plaza were also affected by the shortages.
The Economic Freedom Fighters’ provincial leader, Jossey Buthane, said the shortages have also affected the Malamulele Hospital, which did not have “a single drop of water” with which to clean wounds, perform operations or deliver babies.
Asked for comment, Vhembe mayor Duwelani Nenguda said the municipality had completed the interviewing process for the position of the municipal manager.
“We can now confidently confirm that in a few weeks, Vhembe district will have a new municipal manager.
“However, we are afraid we cannot say the same about the position of the CFO because all the applicants to the position could not meet the requirements as per the advertisement.
“It is, however, untrue that the position of corporate services director is also vacant. The incumbent is currently acting municipal manager and once we appoint new municipal manager, she will go back to her office.
“I can promise you, once all vacant positions have been filled, service delivery will be the order of the day and all municipal woes would be water under the bridge,” said Nenguda.