Mathabatha’s last Sopa amid mudslinging

The Limpopo premier has been accused of failing to take action against MECs found to be on the wrong side of the law.

Limpopo premier and ANC provincial chair Stanley Mathabatha will next week deliver his last State of the Province Address (Sopa) after 10 years of leadership, but his political detractors in the province are already saying “good riddance”.

Mathabatha was head-hunted by former president Jacob Zuma in 2013 from Ukraine, where he was an ambassador.

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He was asked to rescue the province’s administration, which was on the brink of collapse. While some have praised him for reviving the province’s financial health and for unifying the ruling party, others accused him of deepening the woes.

They accuse him of doing nothing or very little when nine municipalities in the province irregularly invested more than R1.2 billion of public funds against Treasury’s advice with the now defunct VBS Mutual Bank.

They also accused him of failing to take action against MECs found to be on the wrong side of the law.

He was also blamed for not delivering clean running water through the R4.5 billion Presidential Giyani Bulk Water project.

Others cited his failure to tar 13,828km of unpaved roads in Limpopo which, they said, had a detrimental effect on the provincial economy.

“When he came to Limpopo we were made to believe he is a messiah. We hoped everything would change. But we are worse off than we were under then premier Cassel Mathale after exactly 10 years of him leading this province,” Seun Mogotji, the general secretary of the Bolsheviks Party of South Africa said.

“Limpopo municipalities are always in the news for all the wrong reasons. Officials are stealing public funds through legal departments, mayors drive around in luxurious vehicles which are above what they are allowed to spend, municipal officials abuse travel claims and manipulate procurement processes.

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“The recent arrests of officials, mayors and former mayors by the Hawks in the VBS-related saga is proof that all was not well under Mathabatha. To me, it is good riddance,” said Mogotji.

A resident, Kagiso Sekokotla of Lephepane village outside Lenyenye, said he expected the Sopa to touch on how the special economic zones fared in the past 10 years in job creation.

Another resident, Lathane Kgatla of Relela in Bolobedu, said gravel roads were a big problem for rural villagers in the entire province.

He said during the rainy season, pupils do not go to school and workers get to work late. Excellent Baloyi of Zingi-Zingi outside Giyani thanked Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu and Mopani district municipality mayor Pule Shayi for the near completion of the R1.3 billion reticulation project.

He also thanked Mchunu and Vharanani Properties for the completion of the 47km pipeline delivering water from Nandoni Dam to Nsami Dam in Giyani as “we will soon have running water in our yards”.

But he said scholar transport was a burning issue in Limpopo, especially in rural schools. Last week, Mathabatha blew his own horn, saying: “There were pockets of challenges. But I think I have steered the ship in the right direction.”

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