R440000 fiasco for training

Zandile Mbabela

THE Cacadu District Municipality spent almost half a million rand on a course for 26 councillors last year, where only four of them passed, four others copied their assignments and failed, and six did not even pitch up for classes.

The district municipality forked out R260000 for tuition alone, while accommodation cost R1500 a night for each of the eight councillors who needed it. The rest had their accommodation paid for by their respective municipalities.

The year-long course, done through Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, targeted people keen to further their skills. It ran over three week-long lecture blocks and cost the municipality about R440000 in total.

The councillors stayed in establishments on the beachfront.

Only councillors Horatio Hendricks, Vukile Bulana, Eugene Goliath and Bonisile Mangxoweni managed to make the grade, with at least one of them passing with a distinction.

Council speaker Deon de Vos said council should reconsider helping councillors through their studies.

"With the resources allocated to this programme, one would think that this is one of the programmes where council would see a return on investment. However this was not the case," he said.

"This is very disappointing and I think council will agree with me when I say the district municipality should relook at the issue of study assistance for councillors."

When the municipal development programme classes started, only 20 councillors attended them and only 18 submitted all three of the course's assignments.

Municipal official Unathi Daniels said the six councillors who did not attend pulled out at the last minute – after tuition fees were paid – due to crises at their respective municipalities.

The Cacadu District Municipality is ANC-led and is made up of a number of municipalities.

Cacadu mayor Khunjuzwa Kekana said the municipality had noted a shortage of skills, resulting in the study aid for councillors to gain the required skills.

"This is not a laughing matter. It's very serious. A lot of money was spent on this," she said. "This was meant to develop skills."

Last year, Kekana lashed out at a group of councillors for abusing their work 3G cards and going over their daily subsistence allowances at a five- day capacity-building programme at NMMU's Bird Street campus.