In what can be regarded as a victory for disgruntled ratepayers, the mayors of three Gauteng municipalities will today be hauled before the provincial legislature’s petitions committee to explain why they failed to deal with residents’ complaints.
The three mayors are Tshwane’s Kgosientso Ramokgopa, Ekurhuleni’s Mondli Gungubele and Emfuleni’s Greta Hlongwane.
Committee chairman Jacob Khawe said the mayors faced being charged and, if found guilty, fined or sentenced to six months’ imprisonment if they failed to appear before the committee.
He said the committee worked similarly to the Office of the Public Protector. Established by the Petitions Act, it has the power to subpoena anyone in contempt of its authority.
Khawe said Ramokgopa would have to explain why he did not resolve the problems of the residents of Boikhutsong and Soshanguve, who in February last year complained of not been provided with water and electricity.
“We’ve been having discussions with Tshwane [metro officials] since that time. [But] those people are still sitting without water and electricity,” Khawe said.
He said the metro had also been unable to resolve its billing crisis.
Hlongwane will be grilled about her council’s decision to attach and sell the house of a resident who owed R44000 in rates and taxes.
“The homeowner took them to court and the court ruled that [the council's] decision was illegal,” Khawe said.
The council promised to resolve the dispute by August.
“We wanted them to pay the equivalent of what her house is worth or give it back to her. But, by September, they still hadn’t done so. That’s why we finally decided to call the mayor to account,” said Khawe.
The legislators will also grill Gungubele about his council’s treatment of a Thokoza resident who had leased a piece of land from the municipality.
“They allowed him to build a house and toilet. Now, after eight years, they want to evict him,” he said.
Khawe said the committee was determined to get tough.
“We’re not going to be lenient on people just because they are ANC comrades,” he said.
“If people are not happy with service delivery, they can petition us. They can also use us as a form of recourse. How long should people complain until they are heard?”
Credit to: Times Live