Poor leadership by Ugu mayor, Mondli Chiliza is believed to have contributed to the recent water crisis which spiralled out of control, costing businesses millions and infringing on residents’ human rights.
So say some Ugu staff, who are members of the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu).
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Hundreds of families along the coast and adjacent interior were left scrambling for water after Cllr Chiliza told his staff last Tuesday that the municipality had no funds with which to pay back money owed to them from the failed Sanlam group scheme.
Workers pointed out that they were less than impressed at the manner in which the mayor had addressed them, accusing him of being ‘arrogant and impolite’.
His silence has also been met with much criticism from various quarters, with local businessmen and ratepayers asking where the mayor was during the crisis.
Cllr Chiliza is reportedly earning a reputation as a ‘no show’ after apparently also failing to attend recent press briefings and mayoral izimbizos.
When questioned on the mayor’s whereabouts at a press briefing at the Ugu offices on Tuesday this week, municipal manager DD Naidoo replied that the provincial task team had been responsible for all comments on the crisis.
However, the mayor had seen fit to address the issue on a Durban radio station, despite being unavailable for comment locally.
Thulani Mkhize, a businessman from Port Edward, said it came as no surprise that the mayor was quiet while the economy of the coast was taking a hammering.
“He is just silent. He has said nothing about how he plans to rebuild the economy and restore the district’s reputation as a tourism destination. It’s as if he couldn’t be bothered.”
Mr Mkhize said it was unacceptable that the mayor had buried his head in the sand when the going got tough.
The mayor’s spokesman, Trevor Khanyile, disputed claims that the mayor had been mum, saying “he had been on the ground, dealing with the crisis and visiting the Bhobhoyi plant trying to resolve the matter.”
Not so, claim fellow councillors who told the Herald they were fed up with the mayor’s leadership style.
Councillors from both the ANC and the DA have spoken out, saying they had no confidence in the mayor and were planning to take action against him if he failed to perform.
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“It is us councillors who face the wrath of communities. If he doesn’t shape up he will have to face a motion of no confidence,” said the group of councillors.
Some of his staff had also blamed the ANC KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Executive Committee for having elected him as mayor.
“Compared to other mayors, I’d have to say he is the worst this municipality has had,” said one. “The attitude he has towards us is not creating a conducive environment at all.”
Although Mr Khanyile said he suspected the mayor had become the target of a smear campaign, councillors disagreed, saying Cllr Chiliza had not only failed to provide leadership, but had failed the entire South Coast.
“The issue of no confidence is a council issue and nothing of that sort had been rumoured.”
The mayor had also been accused of corruption and nepotism, but Mr Khanyile said Cllr Chiliza was not involved in any procurement processes and that these allegations had the potential to open political mud-slinging.
Mr Khanyile reiterated that the mayor had not shied away from his responsibilities, pointing out that it was the municipal manager who was responsible for dealing with ‘some functions’ of the municipality.
An agreement between Samwu representatives and Ugu is yet to be signed, however the provincial task team had promised that the money would be paid by Friday, December 15.
Staff has warned that failure to do so may result in further problems.
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