Pretoria-The troubled municipality of Fetakgomo Tubatse in Burgersfort was accused of squandering the money of taxpayers after entering into a lucrative agreement to buy an office building worth R135 million despite having alternative municipal offices that could be expanded. The arrangement is “ethically unsound,” according to the Sekhukhune Residence Association, a local advocacy group that threatened to embark on a legal bid to reverse the multimillion-rand contract.
The chairman of the Group, Makalakatje Phasha, insisted that the municipality should spend almost R50m of the R135m on expanding the council offices it currently owns instead. Before it was combined with its counterpart Tubatse to create Fetakgomo Tubatse Municipality, the offices in question were owned by the then Fetakgomo municipality. The association said it had previously taken up the matter without success with the provincial HOD Ngaka Dumalisile of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta).
“Dumalisile tersely said: “I am Cogta’s accounting officer, not the municipality. Motupa Selomo, Cogta’s spokesperson, did not respond to detailed questions sent to him on Friday.Tubatse Properties leased the offices (in a) building situated on a farm named Mooifontein to the municipality for over a decade. The Council records, as evidenced by the Pretoria News, revealed that both parties had entered into a lease agreement in 2006, but that the 10-year agreement only came into force until May 2020 in June 2010.
The initial monthly rental was R495 000, but due to an annual 10 percent escalation rate, it subsequently shot up to R2.1m. The Council adopted a resolution on September 25 of last year to purchase the property at a cost of R135m, including VAT of R25.2m.