Building of community hall in Limpopo marred by controversy

Building of community hall in Limpopo marred by controversy

The Limpopo local municipality of Maruleng has paid more than R1 million for three community hall plots in Sekororo, near Hoedspruit.

The hall’s construction was supposed to begin in 2020, but the process has been hampered by controversy over the previous two years. Because two of the paid-for sites were inappropriate, the municipality was compelled to purchase a third, increasing the total cost to more than R1 million.

The construction of the hall on the third site is currently underway.

The amount of money spent and the fact that the hall has not yet been built has sparked a row between the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the ANC council. The DA branded the exercise futile, saying the council was playing with taxpayers’ money.

In all three instances, “subcontractors were appointed to conduct geo-technical investigations and studies,” said DA caucus whip Portia Moropane in a statement.

“To add salt to injury, the multiple relocation of the sites ended up increasing the value of the project. The site cost resulted in … the municipality parting ways with R13.5 million. We want this money back into the municipal account or else all hell will break lose,” she said during an interview last week.

“With the R1 million paid for sites not used, we could have drilled a borehole for a thirsty community which still competes for dirty water with wild animals…

“In a municipality with an unemployment rate of 24%, and where 32% of the residents have access to piped water inside their yards, this futile exercise of spending is totally unacceptable.

“The DA puts the blame squarely to the municipal manager [Thabo] Magabane, claiming it was his responsibility to verify the sites and ensure municipal money was paid for the right course.”

Magabane shifted the blame to the village ward councillor, whose name cannot be mentioned as the matter is still in the hands of the courts.

The councillor had misled the council. The municipality depended on the councillor to show the engineer the right place but had shown him the wrong site, said Magabane during a recent interview with The Citizen.

The municipality had taken legal steps to force the former ward councillor to pay for the loss of money incurred by the municipality.

Magabane said the cost of building had escalated because more expensive materials had to be purchased and more work had to be done at the third site.

“I assure you, there is nothing wrong in my part. I think I have done all [I can] to make sure the money lost is paid back to the municipality,” said Magabane.

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