The Polokwane municipality in Limpopo is defending allegations that an “expensive” councillor induction training workshop, held about 180km away in Bela-Bela, was wasteful expenditure aimed at milking municipal funds dry.
The council pooh-poohed the allegations yesterday, branding them as totally devoid of the truth. The brouhaha surrounding the training comes after the decision by the municipality to hold a three day-training workshop for councillors on issues related to the formation of a local Aids council and related issues.
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The three-day training session was held from 14 to 16 September – and the choice of venue raised eyebrows.
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The DA was the first opposition party to raise concerns on the matter and also stopped all its councillors from attending the workshop.
On Wednesday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) submitted written questions to the speaker of the council, demanding answers why the municipality chose to hold the workshop at an expensive venue outside Polokwane while the city had many suitable venues.
The party said at the core of its discontent was that the bill was footed from the public purse and that they money was spent at the time the city experienced acute financial problems.
“The culture of hosting training workshops and municipal public account committee sessions out of town must be stopped,” DA caucus leader Jacques Joubert said in a statement.
He said the municipality has the new Peter Mokaba Stadium, Jack Botes Hall and numerous other halls that could be utilised at no additional expense.
“Municipal funds must be prioritised for critical service delivery shortfalls such as addressing water infrastructure maintenance during this water crisis,” said Joubert.
R100 000 for event ‘was budgeted for’
Polokwane and surrounding villages and townships such as Mankweng Turfloop, Seshego and Solomondale have not had adequate water provision for years, amid allegations of municipal financial constrains and claims of corruption in the Lepelle Northern Water – a state-owned utility responsible for water provision in Limpopo.
Asked how much was spent on the workshop, municipal spokesperson Thipa Selala said the council coughed out about R100 000 but that the event was budgeted for.
“The workshop is on Service Delivery and Budget Implementation Plan. It was budgeted for as approved by council,” said Selala.
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“The councillors as chairs and champions of this programme needed a comprehensive workshop at a secluded venue where they will not leave to attend to other matters.”
He said councillors would have still been able to assist their constituencies with service delivery issues, while attending “this important induction workshop”.