The DA member of the Free State Provincial Legislature (MPL), Leona Kleynhans, says the by-elections simply filled seats but this does not mean that there will be any immediate changes at that municipality. She says one positive outcome from the by-election is that the municipality will be able to hold council sittings, however, she says, with the ANC holding 37 seats and opposition parties 32, there is little hope.
Kleynhans says despite the majority of the population happy with the by-elections, some wards or areas are already without water and electricity. Ten of the sixteen expelled ANC councillors in that municipality were victorious in the by-elections that were held on Wednesday. The fiercely contested by-elections in 15 wards saw the ANC losing to these independent candidates who parted ways with the party following their expulsion last year.
The group was expelled after they were found guilty for voting with opposition parties during the election of the executive mayor. They were accused of defying the party’s resolution to nominate and vote a party-preferred candidate into the mayoral office. The ANC has only managed to retain five of the wards and lost 10 to the group. The wards were overall contested by 89 candidates from six political parties and 16 independent candidates.
OFM News has previously reported that the municipality owes the power utility Eskom billions of rands and the water board at least a billion rand. The Special Investigative Unit (SIU) confirmed previously that it had made contact with the municipality with the intention of speeding up their investigation process into allegations of fraud and maladministration by municipal officials. This after the president, Cyril Ramaphosa, during his visit at the municipality on an election campaign recently announced that the municipality will be at the centre of the scrutiny.
OFM News previously reported that two officials, Chief Financial Officer Nrateng Khumalo, and the Expenditure Manager, Diakanyo Khampepe, were arrested by the Hawks in March for fraud and corruption amounting to more than R4 million.
OFM News/Lucky Nkuyane