CAPRICORN District Mayor John Mpe has unveiled his plans for the next financial year, promising to spend hundreds of millions on infrastructure and to improve the delivery of basic services such as water and sanitation.
Delivering his State of the District Address (SODA) at Manaileng Sports Ground in Ga-Rafiri, Zebediela today, Mpe pledged to spend almost R300 million on water projects.
This came as a group of about 50 youths stormed the stage and disrupted proceedings accusing the mayor of favouritism and neglecting their needs.
He dismissed them as drunks that were used to fight the political battles of his opponents in the Limpopo ANC.
After police brought the situation under control, Mpe got into the main business of the day.
He laid out his plan for the next financial year, pledging to complete multi-million water and road projects in Limpopo’s wealthiest region which is home to the provincial capital Polokwane.
“We are going to spend R299 million to complete water projects in 15 villages to benefit 39 307 people,” he said in his speech.
He added that in order to reduce the backlog, they were pleased to report that the Roads Agency Limpopo, the implementing agent for the Provincial Departments of Roads and Infrastructures, had made a commitment to upgrade roads in the district. Mpe, who is also ANC chairperson in the Peter Mokaba region, also said that Eskom had planned to roll out 56 electrification projects in the district.
Eight of the projects will be rolled out in Blouberg for the benefit of 436 households, 34 in Polokwane for the benefit of 6 111 households and 10 in Lepelle-Nkumpi electrifying 744 homes.
At least 337 households will benefit from projects in the Molemole Municipality. However, Mpe’s SODA was not without drama.
CDM Speaker Maria Lekganyane had her hands full as a group of youths clad in ANC Youth League (ANCYL) attire disrupted proceedings for about an hour until securing was called in.
Calling themselves the Borotho (Bread) Brigade, they claimed that the mayor was neglecting their needs in the district and accused him of favouritism.
“The Mayor does not care for us. We have no work here. There are many contracts here that are given to people from outside instead of us who live in the area and have qualifications but don’t get the work, ” said one angry female cadre who refused to be named for fear of reprisal.
“We want the man to talk to us and tell us what he was going to do about issues of work. We want work so we can put bread on the table.”
However, Mpe, who is seeking re-election as regional chairperson at an elective conference next month, dismissed the allegations as a ploy for political gain.
“These poor kids are given drugs and alcohol by adults to come disrupt this special occasion all for police gain. We know who you are and we are watching you,” he said to loud cheers from his supporters.
Earlier on, police and private security guards have fought running battles with a group of people who disrupted the proceedings.
They vandalised the banners and threatened other people who were outside the marquee.
Mpe is said to face-off with Polokwane Mayor Thembi Nkadimeng for the position of chairperson.
The two leaders’ supporters have been on each other’s throats in recent months.
They traded accusations and labelled each other as corrupt amid growing political tensions ahead of the Limpopo ANC elective conference scheduled for next month.
Meanwhile, a group Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) was picketing outside the venue of the SODA demanding that Mpe address the issue of water in the area.
“There has never been water here. We have to travel long distances to get water and it’s unfair. The mayor and his people must tell us of how he will sort this out,” yelled one demonstrating supporter.
Mpe stopped to address the EFF’s concerns as he was coming into the sports ground.
“I have promised some youths just outside the Sports Ground that my team and I will assess the water situation here and get back to them with solutions within seven days,” he said.