Allegations have arisen that the Nkomazi Local Municipality in Mpumalanga spent over R1 million on renting a marquee tent in response to hazardous weather conditions, without any official comment from government authorities. According to reports, the municipality spent R40,000 per day for the tent, which was set up as a disaster management center at KaMhlushwa Stadium near Malalane after Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma declared a National State of Disaster due to unstable weather conditions as reported by IOL.
Mpumalanga has been hit hard by severe weather conditions, with ten people losing their lives from flooded rivers and bridges. In response, the municipality established a disaster center at KaMhlushwa Stadium. However, some have raised concerns about the unwarranted expenditure involved.
Nhlonipho Dlamini, a member of the municipality and a DA councillor, expressed concern about the situation and raised the matter with Mayor Phindile Magagula. “Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma declared a National State of Disaster after significant flooding so that an extensive and coordinated response could be put in place. People lost their lives in Mpumalanga, many families were left homeless, schools were disrupted, and medical facilities temporarily ceased operations.
The municipality then set up a disaster center at KaMhlushwa Stadium. However, it has since come to light that this facility was created to benefit cadres rather than those in need.”
Dlamini highlighted that the marquee tent came with 20 water boots, 20 leather safety boots, 20 reflector jackets, 300 lunch packs for damage assessors, 30 catering services, and initial assessors two VIP toilets. “As the DA, we found that some of these items were unnecessary and expensive, however, hiring a marquee tent at R40,000 daily, while there are community halls, was just irrational.
During a general council telephone conference meeting on February 17, we raised our concerns with the executive mayor Phindile Magagula, who agreed that the marquee tent would be removed on February 19. Despite the mayor’s commitment, the marquee tent remained at the site for more than 15 days.
Its rental cost and other items saw the municipality spend more than R1 million over a period of two weeks.”
Grassroots Activism Forum spokesperson Kopano Dibakwane drew attention to the endemic corruption in South African society, stating, “We recently learned that about R1 billion is stolen from Eskom while we console ourselves in the dark due to load shedding. And we are told that people should be allowed to ‘eat a little’.
At whose expense are these people eating? It is the poor grandmother looking after her orphaned children who is being eaten. It is the millions of unemployed youth who are being eaten while the top dogs are eating. Society needs to wake up, not in 2024, but right now.”
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Mandla Msibi recently blamed “thugs” who sell stands in low-lying areas for the damage caused to homes due to the ongoing floods. However, his departmental spokesperson Lindiwe Msibi did not respond to media questions she had asked to be sent via text. Nkomazi municipality’s spokesperson Cyril Ripinga also did not respond to questions sent to him, despite indicating that he had read the messages.