Acting Municipal Manager at Kopanong, Nkululeko Kelepu, says the ongoing strike action by municipal employees, primarily from the South African Municipal Workers' Union (SAMWU), has made it difficult for Khoabane’s team to gain entry to some of the municipal offices in Trompsburg and to access pertinent documentation as a result. Head of the Cogta Department in the province, Mokete Duma, told OFM News previously, the team was expected to get to work following their arrival in the area on Tuesday (March 19). Kelepu says Kopanong management is still busy engaging workers to find an amicable solution to the month-long strike.
“The team has been introduced to the municipality, the council has also approved their terms of reference and the work they need to do”, explains the acting Municipal Manager. He says once they have sorted out the issue of accessing the offices, then they can get to work.
Kelepu is acting on behalf of Martin Kubeka, who was placed on a 30-day special leave in March, pending the council’s own probe into maladministration allegations levelled against him by disgruntled employees. Following that development, the Cogta MEC instituted a Section 106 investigation into Kopanong, under the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA). Duma says the team appointed will look into the issues at the municipality. “[t]hey will also be focusing more on the financial recovery plan seeing as Kopanong is one of the poorest municipalities in the province,” says Duma.
The municipality, which includes the towns of Trompsburg, Edenburg, Jagersfontein and Fauresmith, is reportedly in such financial ruin that it owes varied pension funds, alone, in the region of between R50 and R 60 million. Municipal workers downed tools on February 26 citing non-payment of salaries and third-party contributions as the reason.