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Northern Cape’s Kathu based Gamagara Municipality says an allegation by the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Melinda Hattingh’s that its Chief Financial Officer Ndabaithethwa Moses Grond acquired his Maserati Granturismo car through corrupt means is laced with racism.

This follows Hattingh who is the DA’s Member of the Provincial Legislature (MPL) having blamed the financial troubles of the municipality on Grond whom she claimed lives “a lavish lifestyle,” dubbing him as Moses “Maserati” Grond and further accusing him of corruption and maladministration in a media statement.

In response, the municipality’s spokesperson Kamogelo Semaimai accused Hattingh of racist insinuations. “Racism remains a thorny issue in South Africa and we hope that this “corruption and maladministration” statement does not assume that a black person cannot acquire these “expensive” assets other than through corruption.”

Semaimai encouraged the DA to report the corruption and maladministration claims against Grond “to the relevant authorities instead of publicly assassinating his character with baseless and unfounded allegations,” also stating that Grond “has worked for and can account for it (his car).”

He condemned the singling out of Grond. “To place the reason for all the challenges the municipality faces on one individual is to render every councilor (including DA councilors) and officials of the municipality as useless political and administrative dwarfs controlled by the Chief Financial Officer which is too much a power to one individual.”

MPL Hattingh also called on the MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (COGHSTA), Bentley Vass to put the municipality under administration, citing its failures to pay creditors such as Sedibeng Water – 14 million rand, electricity distributor Eskom – above 65 million rand.

“Residents constantly face the threat of load shedding and water shedding. They frequently also have to live alongside sewage, due to the municipality’s failure to upgrade and maintain infrastructure,” she stated.

The DA lambasted the municipality based on the agency – Ratings Afrika – in its Municipal Financial Sustainability Index, having named Gamagara as the Northern Cape’s worst municipality.

Semaimai questioned the authenticity of the agency, claiming that it never had any communication nor interaction with any of the staff members of the municipality or its councilors. “We also don’t know what criteria or research methodology they applied to arrive at the conclusion that we scored 24 points which is the lowest in the Northern Cape as they never shared their report with us.”

Semaimai cast the municipality’s past accolades into the equation. “In fact, we were ranked as the top ten great municipalities in South Africa by the South African Institute of Race Relations (a reputable rating agency) at no cost, in 2014.”

He also added that the municipality’s cash flow has improved, entered into payment agreements with its creditors and that most of the experienced problems have been resolved.

Gamagara Municipality was not one of the eight Northern Cape municipalities pointed out to be in “distress and dysfunctional” and in need of urgent intervention by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize in his budget vote speech last week.

Despite having attained an unqualified audit (clean) in 2015/2016 financial year, in this week’s 2016/2017 Municipal Audit Report as released by Auditor General Kimi Makwetu, Gamagara got a qualified audit owing to its inability to substantiate revenue generated from 4000 of its water meters amongst other issues.

By Staff Reporter