Democratic Alliance Member of the Provincial Legislature, Chris Pappas, has lashed back at the ANC-led uMngeni Municipality over its scathing criticism of a pothole fishing competition residents held to highlight the problem of poor service delivery recently.
The ANC had described the protest as the DA’s “circus-like” activism and alleged that some of the protesters had flouted the Covid-19 adjusted Alert Level 3 regulations by not wearing masks in public an by drinking in public. Members of the public had sat on the Curry’s Post Road about 3km outside Howick with fishing rods to highlight the extent of the pothole damage to roads in the area.
uMngeni Muinicpality spokesperson Thando Mgaga said in her response to the protest action and complaints about badly damaged roads that the local council was in fact working on repairing the potholes.
Pappas described the municipality’s response as “incorrect and feeble attempts” to “tarnish the name of the DA and one of our hard working and proactive public representatives.” He was referring to local councillor Hazel Lake who had joined the pothole fishing protest action.
“The uMngeni Municipality has for years under budgeted on maintenance, especially with regards to roads. Complaints have been ignored and updates have been scarce. It has reached a point where some roads are no longer safe to drive on and residents are forced to drive on the side of the road,” Papas said.
He also alleged that the municipality has severely skewed budget priorities with “vanity projects and wasteful interventions” eating up scarce resources.
“Treasury prescribes that at least 8% of the annual municipal budget must be allocated to maintenance. The uMngeni Municipality frequently fails to reach this target,” he said.
He said the municpality had also received “scathing” comments in the Auditor General’s reports especially about financial management and capacity to deliver services.
“If the uMngeni Municipality was serious about its obligations towards the community it would note the frustrations of uMngeni residents and transparently provide a plan of action to urgently resolve the problems of those who pay their salaries,” he said.