The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) is concerned about the safety of communities on the West Rand, as emergency services are now on hold due to the municipality’s financial collapse.
“The executives of the West Rand District Municipality must be held accountable should any disastrous consequences evolve from the emergency services strike,” says Michael Holenstein, OUTA Local Manager.
West Rand Emergency Services employees are on strike and have locked up all municipal vehicles due to concerns over whether their salaries will be paid.
The municipality has struggled for years to meet its financial obligations. Some staff have still not been paid their October salaries and OUTA is aware that medical aid contributions, PAYE and pension fund payments have not been paid over by the municipality for at least the last three months.
“The municipality’s illegal VBS Bank investment was not the reason for the financial demise, but was probably the final nail in the coffin and illustrates the financial mismanagement at that municipality. The municipal manager, CFO and mayor must be charged for illegally investing in VBS,” says Holenstein.
The Executive Mayor, Boyce Maneli, should never have allowed the West Rand emergency services to come to a standstill. It is the duty of a mayor to reach out for assistance from the provincial government to restore the services urgently. “It is unacceptable that disaster assistance, emergency services and fire-fighting services are not available to assist citizens in case of emergency,” says Holenstein.
The interruption comes when Gauteng is experiencing a heat wave with a “red” fire alert status issued by the SA Weather Service.
OUTA is not sure why Gauteng’s MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, and MEC for Infrastructure Development, Jacob Mamabolo, are at the forefront of meeting with officials at West Rand, when this responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the MEC for CoGTA and Human Settlements, Uhuru Moiloa.\
“We call on the Premier to make sure emergency services are available to residents until this impasse has been resolved,” says Holenstein.
OUTA welcomes reports that the failed municipality is to be put under administration.
OUTA Local is an organised initiative to establish an apolitical civil rights platform on a local level to ensure the efficient and prosperous functioning of municipalities, free from the abuse of authority and governed with the efficient use of tax revenue.