Residents of Mokgola near Zeerust are refusing to use a newly built community hall alleging that it is a product of corruption.
The cash-strapped Ramotshere Moiloa Local Municipality (RMLM) built a community hall which does not appear to justify the staggering R5.6-million which was poured into it.
The building of this hall did not augur well with many residents as they alleged to have been deliberately sidelined by the North West municipality. Unhappy residents claim that tenders were given without following proper procedures as required by the MFMA (Municipal Finance Management Act 56 of 2003).
Speaking to Newsi, Paballo Mokgosi (32) accused the municipality and service providers of having inflated the prices to financially benefit from this project.
“While I am angry, it is quite funny that almost R6 million is said to have been allocated to this project and the community is left with this incomplete, small, and ugly building claimed to have cost the municipality so much, it is laughable. I will never use that building because it is clearly a monument of corruption by our municipality,” Mokgosi said.
While the municipality claims to have completed the project in 2018, the building of a poorer hall is deteriorating. Some part of the fence is falling down while other window glasses are broken and have not been refurbished.
Other community members are scared that the building will end up used as a haven or safe house for criminals if continued to be deserted.
“Crime is increasingly becoming a problem for our community, what I fear most is that these criminals will end up using this building as their strategic place. It was much better when there was no building because no one would hide here and rape or murder anyone. I appeal to the municipality to rather bring security personnel as well as someone for maintenance to remove this big grass around this building so that it is not used by criminals,” Mirriam Kgengwe, 61, warned.
Newsi also spoke to the Community Liasion Officer (CLO) of the project, Moses Moumakwa (57). Moumakwa reiterated the community’s claim that the community hall was a corruption monument.
“People may not be educated but it does not require a rocket scientist to see that the building is not even worth R2 million. I fought with service providers and the community knows about that, R5.6 million was paid to a service provider whom we do not know how he got the tender. When I asked these questions, senior officials from the municipality told me to keep quiet and I kept quiet because I did not want to die,” Moumakwa said.
Attempts to get a comment from the municipality failed despite giving them more days to respond, “It is a pity that you are sending me an inquiry now and indicate that your deadline is tomorrow. Allow me to do my own research and I will respond as soon as I have the facts,” municipality spokesperson Dirontsho Sebego said.
She was given more days to do her research, she didn’t responded as promised.
Independent political analyst, Dr. Ralph Mathekga, also weighed in, “I think that the inflation of the prices when it comes to goods and services is criminal in municipalities. You saw a stadium in the Eastern Cape, we used to see some small bridges next to the road a lot, this is because of lack of accountability because it is not just about the money said to have been spent, it is about whether value for money was there. If you ask about value for money then you will start realizing that the money paid was not appropriate to the project,” Dr. Mathekga said.
The North West municipality has been struggling to meet its financial obligation hence the provincial intervention which lasted until July 2021. The municipality has not been stable since 2016, the Mayor (Afrika Thale) was removed in 2017, a year after local government elections.
According to NW Cooperative Governance, Human Settlement, and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) Spokesperson Dineo Thapelo, the provincial government acted swiftly as a response to concerns by residents about increasing corruption.
“We are well aware of the allegations of corruption in that municipality hence the provincial intervention by the province in that municipality. The R5.6-million project is part of the misgovernance that has caused the province to intervene in that municipality previously,” Thapelo said.
“The province has done an assessment of all municipalities in the province and knows the status of all municipalities in the province. Ramotshere Moiloa is one of the municipalities that has been categorized as dysfunctional,” Thapelo added.