Mbeki pays surprise visit to troubled municipality

President Thabo Mbeki paid a surprise visit to the troubled Moqhaka municipality in the Free State on Monday.

Free State Premier Beatrice Marshoff told journalists the meeting was part of the president’s unannounced visits to municipalities to check on service delivery.

Marshoff said the Free State “and specifically Kroonstad” was privileged to be the first visited by the president.

“During the meeting, there were active discussions with the president’s delegation on aspects of the working relationship and cooperation between the different government levels.”

The Moqhaka municipality, comprising Kroonstad, Viljoenskroon and Steynsrus, was one of three dysfunctional municipalities in the Free State that was to be put under full administration by the provincial government in 2004. This followed a recommendation by the Free State legislature.

After political intervention, however, the Free State government appointed an administrator to handle only certain functions at Moqhaka.

These include administration, finances and the development of sewerage infrastructure.

Marshoff said the province’s executive committee is waiting for the administrator’s first interim report before decide on the way forward for Moqhaka.

A report filed in the Free State legislature in 2004 made serious allegations of corruption, nepotism and lack of service delivery.

Marshoff said she is confident that service delivery is sound in the province and the municipality.

“There are problems which are normal in any situation, they are not unique. The situation at Moqhaka is the same as with all other municipalities.”

Mbeki was accompanied by Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad, Director General in the Presidency Frank Chikane and Deputy Minister of Safety and Security Susan Shabangu.

The meeting was also attended by Free State African National Congress chairperson Ace Mageshule, Free State local government minister Benny Kotsoane and Moqhaka mayor Holomo Lebona.—Sapa

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