DA roots out misuse of community halls

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THE Ndlambe DA caucus revealed this week that two ANC councillors who had booked community halls for “community meetings” had actually used them for the ANC’s 105th birthday celebrations.

Community halls may be used by councillors free of charge to hold community meetings relating to their council business, that is, for report back meetings to their wards or information meetings, but not for political meetings such as the 105th ANC birthday celebration.

DA whip Khanyisa Daweti issued a statement on the incident, saying the councillors had broken their oath of office by misleading municipal officials on the hiring of Jauka Hall and Marselle Community Hall on January 22.

“Councillor [Stwiga] Njibane and councillor [Cynthia] James booked these halls, respectively, for what they called ‘community meetings’. After some investigation from DA councillors, it emerged that these halls were in actual fact booked for the ANC’s 105th birthday celebrations,” Daweti said.

“All political meetings are charged for as per the tariff list which is R658.92, and the responsible political party representative is liable for such payment. After enquiries from the DA to municipal officials, it emerged that no payment for hall hire had been made.”

The DA then met with municipal manager Rolly Dumezweni and council Speaker Vivian Mapapu, to inform them of the violation of the councillor code of conduct.

“The Democratic Alliance then gave the two councillors an ultimatum to either pay the full amounts they owe to the municipality for hall hire or to face the Rules Committee for disciplinary action. On February 14 and 15 payments for the hall hiring were respectively made by councillor James and councillor Njibane.

“The councillors’ conduct is despicable considering the oath of office taken by all councillors. Had it not been for the vigilance and oversight role by the Democratic Alliance, this abuse would have gone unnoticed,” Daweti concluded.

In response, Njibane, the Ward 9 councillor, said he thought the policy was that a councillor could use a community hall free of charge for any kind of meeting. He did not know there was a limitation for political meetings.

He said the former Ward 9 councillor, Skura Venene – now a DA councillor – did the same thing.

“Daweti may have sent the statement, but behind the scenes I know it’s Skura who’s raising the issue,” Njibane said.

“I’ve been made aware of it now – the limitation. I was willing to pay and I paid.”

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