Lekwa Local Municipality has noted with serious concern the malicious misinformation statements doing round on social media about its performance and purported turnaround failure.
The municipality would like to categorically dismiss the claims that it has regressed and is failing to provide basic services. The municipality has seen tremendous improvements in all areas that rendered it dysfunctional in the past years leading up to November 2021, and would like to put the following on record.
The residents of Lekwa have been without stable clean water supply for the past 15 years. Subsequent to a diagnosis that was carried out by the Council, it was established that water infrastructure was neglected for many years, which resulted in its current dilapidated state. With its design capacity of 37 megalitres a day, the Standerton water treatment plant is unable to meet the 52 megalitres per day demand.
The above-mentioned findings warranted the refurbishment of the Standerton water treatment plant, which will be followed by the upgrade thereof. The refurbishment project is implemented by the Department of Water and Sanitation and the Gert Sibande District Municipality as an implementing agent. In addition, the upgrade feasibility study has been commissioned and is in the final stages.
The municipality experienced breakdowns of raw water abstraction pumps. Repairs of the said pumps are underway with the assistance of Goldi.
In addition, four new turbine pumps are being procured on behalf of the municipality by Seriti through the Social Labour Plans (SLP) programme, and it is estimated that these pumps will be installed by the 1st of March 2024. This will significantly improve the current raw water abstraction volume at the treatment plant.
The municipality augments the ongoing water supply challenges through water tankers as a short-term intervention.
It is worth noting that water infrastructure is very old, dating back to the 1970’s. In the past 50 years, the infrastructure was not adequately maintained, largely due to insufficient funding and budget. This is a cause of the constant breakdowns that the Council is currently dealing with.
It is for this reason that the Council developed and approved a Water and Sanitation Master Plan that the municipality never had, which details water and sanitation infrastructure development and maintenance. The Council currently needs about R1.5 billion for a total overhaul of water infrastructure.
It is common knowledge that roads in and around Lekwa have been untraversable for several years. The municipality continuously makes efforts aimed at addressing this by way of patching potholes. However, these efforts are hindered by limited technical capacity, i.e., the municipality does not have a jet patcher – a critical implement. Recently, the Municipality borrowed a jet patcher from the Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport for a period of three months. A request was made for the department to borrow the municipality a jet patcher for a further two months.
It is worth noting that 95% of Lekwa’s roads are beyond their lifespan and need redesign and reconstruction. The municipality needs R1 billion for total redesign and reconstruction of the road network. This has necessitated the Executive Mayor to engage SANRAL and Provincial Government to facilitate a transfer of some roads to SANRAL so that they can be refurbished.
This would lead to the municipality using its limited resources on internal streets in towns and residential areas.
The streetlights and high mast lights repairs, and maintenance is an ongoing operational programme that is being undermined by constant vandalism and theft. The municipality has issued a series of public notices urging residents to safeguard their electrical infrastructure due to increased theft and vandalism on electrical infrastructure, which greatly affect the streetlights. The last notice was issued on 06 October 2023.
The municipality continues to appeal to residents to assist in fighting electrical infrastructure vandalism and cable theft.
The theft and vandalism of electricity infrastructure costs the municipality R1 million a month, this is money that could be used on other much needed services.
The municipality has reviewed the Integrated Waste Management Plan after it has not been reviewed for more than five (5) years, and it was approved by the Council during 2022/23 financial year.
The municipality has developed and adheres to the weekly refuse collection schedule. The refuse collection is undertaken with seven refuse removal trucks. The seventh refuse removal truck was purchased in the last financial year.
In its attempts to fight illegal dumping, the municipality bought a new tipper truck to assist in clearing illegal dumping sites. There were 55 illegal dumping sites across Lekwa and the municipality has cleared 40 of those and continues to advocate for a clean environment. The Executive Mayor, in July 2023, launched the weekly cleanup campaign programme that is led by the MMC for Community Services and Safety, Cllr. Seipati Modise.
Lekwa Local Municipality urges residents to join its fight against illegal dumping and ensure their environment is clean for their health as well as preserving it for future generations.
The municipality has appointed meter readers for accurate billing on the conventional meters and installed smart electricity meter in its bid to ensure that residents pay for services they consumed.
The property valuer was appointed to conduct property valuations so as to get the correct property values and that will further assist the municipality in its strides to correct the billing system.
FINANCIAL RECOVERY PLAN
Financial Recovery Plan activities and progress are reported to the National Treasury on a monthly basis using the report template that was designed by the National Treasury. Every month after the receipt of the report which is accompanied by Portfolio of Evidence (POE), Treasury comments on each progress reported.
The FRP contains 203 activities underpinned by four pillars, i.e., good governance; human resources; financial management as well as service delivery pillar. Of the 203, 45 have activities have been completed, 74 are ongoing, 83 in progress and only 2 activities are yet to start.
In addition to the monthly reporting, the National Treasury convenes quarterly war room meetings, and the National Treasury representatives have expressed their satisfaction with the progress made to date in the implementation of the FRP.
USE OF SERVICE PROVIDER
Lekwa Local Municipality strongly dismisses the accusation that the Municipality is wasting its resources on service providers.
The municipality’s operations are guided by the Integrated development Plan (IDP) and Budget as approved by the Council. The IDP and Budget are designed into a measurable action plan; Service Delivery Budget and Implementation Plan (SDBIP) that is also approved by Council and is reported on quarterly.
In implementing the SDBIP, where there is a need use of service providers, Supply Chain Management guidelines and regulation are followed to the latter and checks and balance are conducted to ensure value for money.
FILLING CRITICAL VACANCIES
The current administration has ensured that all senior management positions are filled, and all critical service delivery-related positions were identified and prioritised. Some have been filled and some are on recruitment stages.
This therefore means that the municipality has made tremendous progress in filling the critical vacant positions that will assist in ensuring services are delivered to the community.
Lekwa Local Municipality is not aware of any business that has closed or left its jurisdiction. If there are any, it has not been made aware of their reasons of closing or leaving.
ASTRAL FOOD COURT ACTION
Lekwa Local Municipality is not aware of any active Court case brought against it by Astral Food.
The only case that we are aware of is the case that led to the dissolution of the Council in 2021.