‘These guys want to loot’ – Lephalale municipality manager faces music for alleged insubordination

Cocquyt allegedly refused to sign for the procurement of rental water tankers, saying there were already two tankers in the municipal parking lot which were not being used.


Today is D-Day for Maria Cocquyt, municipal manager at the Lephalale local municipality in the Waterberg region, to submit reasons why she should not be suspended for allegedly refusing to take orders from her political principals.

Cocquyt was allegedly told to sign for the procurement of rental tankers to take water to villages hit hard by drought. Cocquyt allegedly refused because there were already two tankers in the municipal parking lot, which were not being used because they did not have drivers.

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The municipality has six trucks. Four of them are being used on daily basis to tanker water to villages.

‘Insubordination’

Cocquyt was also allegedly asked to beef up the municipality’s security personnel by 40 more guards, The Citizen was told. Cocquyt refused the request, allegedly arguing that the number of security personnel was enough and the budget would not support the request.

At least two sources from the municipality claim she refused to take a third instruction from her bosses. She is said to have refused to release a budget for the implementation of the Lephalale Development Agency.

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The agency was aimed at empowering youth through job creation and skills development to fight poverty and the underdevelopment of young people in that part of the province. It is understood Cocquyt flatly refused to do so and told the municipality that everything which involved the public purse should be done by the book and first be budgeted for.

She is said to have advised her bosses that hasty decisions could collapse the municipality. The municipality arranged an urgent council meeting, where she could furnish reasons for her insubordination.

‘Ill-informed’ decision on Cocquyt

Cocquyt was given seven working days to respond. The decision was branded by some as ill-informed while others said it was the right step.

Democratic Alliance caucus leader in the municipality Nico Pienaar said: “There is nothing wrong with the move. The municipal manager has been levelled with serious allegations. According to the rule of law, when the municipal manager is accused of certain things that negatively affect the running of the institution, she should be afforded time to explain herself, formal investigations should be instituted and action should be taken, pending the outcome of the investigations.

“All these must be done in line with the rule of law and that is exactly what the council has done.”

‘They want to loot’

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Mosonya Semenya branded the council’s decision the “ANC’s concocted plan to loot public funds”.

“The writing is on the wall. These guys want to loot,” he said. “We have had this manager [Cocquyt] for more than 18 years now. First 10 years as a director and eight years as municipal manager. We have harvested lots of awards in the previous years because of her way of managing this municipality. This includes good audit outcomes and good spending of the municipal purse.”

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Cocquyt did not respond to questions, with municipal spokesperson Conscious Chiloane saying the matter was subjudice.

– news@citizen.co.za

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