The Democratic Alliance (DA) strongly condemns the ongoing neglect of municipal infrastructure in eKomani, which has resulted in a fourth building, this time the iconic City Hall, burning down.

This destruction of property is a direct result of a local government that has no respect for municipal assets, no respect for ratepayer contributions and no respect for service delivery that these rates should be paying for. Their mission is simply to enrich themselves at all costs. Nothing else matters.

We commend the Community Police Forum and all other volunteers who made every effort to save the building and prevent the fire from spreading to other buildings. It goes without saying that the Mayor, the Municipal Manager and the Speaker of the Enoch Mgijima Municipality did not even bother to answer their phones during the crisis.

It is very disturbing that all four buildings that have been gutted by fire in recent months, contained valuable and sensitive municipal records, including records of foul play and maladministration of the highest order. One can only assume, therefore, that these fires were no accident.

Also disturbing is the fact that the fire engine, which was waiting for repairs in October last year when the art gallery burnt down, is still without an engine and the municipality alleges they have no money for repairs.

They do, however, have funds to purchase a brand-new vehicle to the value of R671 550 for the Speaker. The decision to purchase the vehicle was pushed through by the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and the Municipal Manager alone, without a council resolution.

Imagine the difference this amount could have made to the municipal firefighting department! They could have paid for the repairs to the fire-truck engine, purchased new equipment and uniforms, and would have been in a position to save the beautiful town hall.

I shall once again write to the EC MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Xolile Nqatha, to request a full investigation into this fire and the previous fires which destroyed municipal assets. I will further request that immediate steps be taken to ensure that the firefighting unit is properly equipped to fight fires and that the Municipal Manager and the CFO be held to account for their reckless and illegal spending in a time when the municipality cannot even offer the most basic services to citizens.

In the DA-led Western Cape, the state-of-the-art Centre for Disaster Management is fully functional and firefighters, paramedics and volunteers are ready at all times to protect lives and assets, and practise service before self. Sadly, in Enoch Mgijima, it is the other way round.

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Jane Cowley MPL is the Enoch Mgijima Constituency Leader.

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