North West officials fingered in water crisis to remain councillors

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A memorandum of demands is read out by a community representative at the Madibeng municipality offices.

BRITS - The officials at the centre of the water crisis in the North West will remain councillors, even though they were removed from their high-ranking posts on Tuesday.

Madibeng mayor Poppy Magongwa, along with Speaker Buti Makhongela and chief whip Solly Malete, were removed from their posts on Tuesday following instructions from ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.  

The ANC has said it will investigate allegations that members of the council were involved in sabotaging water tanks in the North West municipality.

But newly appointed chief whip Simon Klaas said that the fired officials would still be full council members, even though The Star newspaper reported on Wednesday morning that all three had tendered resignations.

"We won’t remove them, unless they resign," Klaas said.

He spoke after water shortages last week prompted protests from residents of Mothutlung near Brits. Four people were killed in the protests, allegedly by police.

Residents from several towns in the province protested again on Wednesday at the offices of the Madibeng municipality.

Another official has been implicated in the region’s water troubles, but it was also not clear whether any action would be taken against him.

Municipal manager Monde Juta has been named in a ministerial task team report as one of the people implicated in maladministration and alleged corruption.

But during a press briefing on Wednesday Juta suggested that he was unaware of this. "I haven’t seen the report, it’s a council matter and they will do it," he said.

The report was compiled by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and released in February last year by former minister Richard Baloyi. 

Newly appointed executive mayor Mashidisu Mangwate, however, said she would follow the report "to the letter" and implement action suggested in the report.