Byline: Andani Matumba
17 July 2022
Sipho Sezwe Trading’s, Mr Daniel Khumalo defended the community of Kinross against the alleged interference of MMC’s and Councillors in the employment of Community Liaison Officer (CLO) as well as the sub-contracting of local businesses under his company.
This followed after Sipho Sezwe Trading was awarded a contract by the Mpumalanga Department of Human Settlement for the installation of the sewer pipes and road infrastructure at Ext 33, also known as Marikana in Kinross.
The said project was delayed due to the conflict between community members of Kinross and their ward councillor Rose Nkabinde in May 2022, the residents of Ext 33 took to the streets voicing out their frustrations by blocking the road between Kinross and Leandra which affected the flow of traffic and one of the frustrations was that the ward councillor had undue influence in the project as well as the employment processes in that she only wanted persons preferred by her to be employed in the said project.
Cllr Nhlakanipho Zuma, Executive Major of Govan Mbeki Municipality acted swiftly to the demands of the residents and visited the project site.
In his response, Cllr Zuma reprimanded the interference of councillors and other council members in community projects and further instructed the contractor to re-advertise the posts for everyone to be given a fair chance to contest for the positions and more specifically that of a Community Liaison Officer, where it was alleged that Cllr Rose Nkabinde wants her preferred candidate to fill the vacant post.
A CLO, the project steering committee as well as some of the general workers were appointed from Kinross.
The project kick started on 06 May 2022 and functioned effectively without external interference until Tuesday, 12 July 2022 when a meeting was held at the Govan Mbeki Municipality Offices and the project CLO, Mr Jerome Mpanza was requested to excuse himself from the meeting, allegedly by the MMC of Planning and Development only remaining with the project managers.
Mpanza said he was flabbergasted when he saw Ms. Pauline Radebe, the one alleged to be the Councilors darling reporting for work the following day and she introduced herself as a CLO.
The steering community also found out about the appointment of Ms Radebe and immediately went on site, it is when they realised that Mpanza is going to be either fired, residents came together and demanded to see the ward councillor who then later on explained that it was all a misunderstanding.
Mpanza was subsequently called to the GMM offices along with one of the site Managers on Thursday, 14 July 2022.
“When I arrived and immediately when the meeting commenced, the Director of Planning and Development, Mr Sabelo Vilakazi said he was not going to waste my time and that it was my last day being employed as a CLO.
A petition allegedly signed on 21 June 2022 was brought to my attention and I was informed that it was due to the fact that the community members were complaining about my appointment and that proper procedures were not followed when I was appointed, ” explained Mpanza
Mpanza further said he was suspecting an act of fraud done just to remove him so that the municipality can place a person of their preference in his position.
“This was shocking because the same petition was read out to the residents and majority of them claimed that they signed because they were informed that it is a document which will be used to allocate RDP houses to those who need them meanwhile some signatories do not exist and some not even knowing about the document altogether” said Mpanza.
Mpanza further alleged that he also received a call from a private number from someone offering to pay him an amount of R15 000- 00 so that he steps down from being CLO.
Residents were frustrated by the removal of Mpanza from the meeting as he is the bridging gap between the community and the stakeholders in this project with anger fueled by his subsequent removal from his position, the residents then threatened to close the site and demanded that the contractors pack up and vacate the site until the issues are resolved or the contractor gives them an update regarding the project as many are still waiting for employment and sub-contractors.
Mr. Daniel Khumalo acted swiftly to the demands of the people, he too was shook by the news because he has never encountered any problems with the CLO who was appointed as advised by the EM.
“Project meetings are supposed to take place at the project site and not municipal boardrooms, hence I avoid meetings like that.
As far as I know, Mr Mpanza is still the CLO of the company and will continue his duties as such,” said Mr Khumalo.
Khumalo further confirmed Cllr. Nkabinde’s undue influence on the employment process stating that she also wanted her son to be subcontracted in the project and had first brought 6 people during a meeting which was held at the N17 Sasol Garage.
“The project is meant to benefit the people of Marikana and not individuals with vested interests,” he said bringing hope of more employment opportunities from the project.
There are 25 more general workers still needed for the project and Khumalo encouraged his Managers to priorities sub-contractors at this stage as they should have been appointed already.
The residents appreciated the efforts and praised him for being a man of honour.
Executive Mayor of GMM, Cllr Nhlakanipho Zuma strongly condemns the alleged interference by the Municipality in the employment processes of CLO for the project as well as the action taken by the contractor to address the community.
“We have reported the contractor to the Department of Human Settlement because he does not have the authority to address the community.
There is a steering committee for that reason,” said Cllr Zuma also adding that at this stage the municipality can not do anything until a formal complaint has been filed with the MM.
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