Mayor Richard Mbatha says he has no hard feelings over the IFP’s decision to ‘redeploy’ him and Speaker, Bongiwe Makhathini-Mbatha.
“I am positive. I am young. Although I am exiting as Mayor on September 30, I will still be serving my party and community in another capacity,” he told the Courier in an exclusive interview. He and the Speaker will be ‘re-deployed’ within IFP structures. A snappily dressed, as usual, Mayor Mbatha appeared relaxed as he defended himself against criticism levelled against him during last week’s Council meeting over the use of the Mayoral Ford Everest, that was written off following a crash in Sibongile in July.
It was said that the car had logged up over 127 000 km in 18 months. Mayor Mbatha, however, said previous ‘ANC Mayors had abused Mayoral vehicles with one even travelling into Lesotho without a Council resolution but the Council always chose to ignore those indiscretions.
“ANC Mayors and MECs around the Province and beyond use official vehicles to attend party meetings. “They enjoy criticising. It’s fine. As a leader you have to prepare yourself for that.”
The Mayor said he ‘preferred to look at some achievements since August 2016’. We have completed electrification projects in rural areas and there are still some areas that need to be attended to.
“We have also identified a service provider to erect lightning conductors in the rural areas to help protect residents against lightning strikes, so prevalent in summer.
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“I believe I have made the Mayor’s office more accessible by engaging with the young, senior citizens and the business community. With municipal manager, SR Ntuli, we have done a skills audit of municipal employees and found that 75% of employees are not qualified for the positions they hold. It has not been a popular move as people were sitting comfortably in posts they were not qualified for. We do not want to harass anyone and no one will lose their jobs. We will be moving people into posts that they are qualified for to ensure better service delivery.”