Mopani District Municipality Mayor Nkakareng Rakgoale has called on residents to pay tax for their services in order to reduce protests related to such. Rakgoale said people must know that as long as they are not paying for infrastructure then it will not be easy to maintain it.
“The challenges that we experienced are edged in infrastructure. We have an asbestos pipeline that keeps on bursting. We have been given a grant, which is an equitable share to pay salaries and services like Eskom. It is not necessarily to pay for infrastructure and maintenance but because the people are not paying for it we have to take that money and fix the pipe. So we fix it for free and use it for free,”Rakgoale said.
She emphasised that it was the biggest challenge with many municipalities all around the country and that leads to people becoming impatient with the municipality. That then leads to service delivery protests when people who can afford it should be paying.
“Why are we paying for DSTV? When you don’t pay for your DSTV they switch it off and when you go pay they switch it on. We can’t have a situation where we have professionals who keep using water for free. At some stage people, especially professionals must start paying for service delivery in the village. In the village where I stay, there are no meters and that just means people do not account for the water they use. So we are going to move towards that direction that those who can afford to pay for services so that infrastructure can be able to maintain itself,” she said.
Rakgoale has been at the helm as mayor for the past five years and admits that when she occupied the seat in July 2014, the very same month the municipality could not pay its salaries and it was not a technical error it was a fact that the municipality did not have money.
“I arrived to a mess here where the municipality did not have any money so I had to ask the municipal administration of what transpired and how we really got there. The staff could not be paid, we had electricity, water and telephone bills to pay. I established a task team that comprised of Members of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) and we thought perhaps if we engage Coghsta [Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, cogta [Cooperative Governance and traditional affairs] and provincial and national treasury to be able to understand as to what really happened,” she said.
Rakgoale said the truth was uncovered when she was attending a function with Cogta officials who gave her the whole picture where all the money went and said at some point there was over R190 million missing from the municipality purse and it could not be traced.
“We got help from the instruments of government and the only reason we were able to get help was because I was new and they were clear that was the only reason we got the bail-out. Today its 2018 and we are managing our own funds. So we have turned that around,” the mayor said.Rakgoale claimed that she has also turned around the water problem in Mopani by employing skilled and specialised people to positions that needed attention and that there is now been better planning.
“At some stage, the municipality was known for boreholes and not every borehole could be accounted for. We have now appointed skilled people to attend to the borehole problem. I might not be to the satisfaction of our people but one thing I can say is that we are moving in the right direction to fixing boreholes. Historically the municipality could not fix boreholes and now we can. We have highlighted that better planning is the key to every cent we use. If you are going to spend five billion then people must be able to open and a tap and for water to come out.”
However, the mayor did warn against those who use politics for their own selfish interests.
“When people put you into a position they expect services but there are those who are saying we have put her there because she will give us positions and we will benefit one way or another. Those are the people who will never be satisfied with whatever you do. What you need to satisfy are the voters that voted you in. If jobs are available just advertise the position and let the public apply so that those who are qualified and deserve the position start working,” she said.