Secretary for the Foundation, Shima Mahlatsi, tells OFM News, that as it stands the “peaceful” march is going ahead as planned and will begin at Thabong Community Hall at 11 am and finish off at the Matjhabeng Municipal offices in Welkom’s central business district at 2 pm.
It is here that the demonstrating group will hand over a memorandum of demands to the Matjhabeng Council Speaker as well as representatives from the Free State Premier’s office and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta).
Mahlatsi says there are various reasons why they want Speelman to step down. This includes poor service delivery in Welkom, Allanridge, Hennenman and Odendaalsrus, amongst others.
Mahlatsi says there is a lack of development in the municipality. He argues that when Speelman was elected into power, he appointed members of mayoral committees (MMCs). These individuals are supposed to lead their respective divisions at the municipality. He stresses that when these divisions fail to function, it is a reflection of Speelman’s inability to hold the MMC’s accountable, and that is “why he must go”.
The march will take place in Constantia Street, Koppie Alleen Road and Stateway Street in Welkom.
Speelman is no stranger to controversy. In 2020 he was suspended by the African National Congress’ (ANC) Free State disciplinary committee after a video of him making use of racial slurs when referring to the coloured community in Bronville surfaced on social media.
This was in an address to members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) who were deployed to the area to enforce Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. The committee slapped him with an 18-month ban from party activities. This decision was later eased by the national disciplinary appeals committee.
Furthermore, Matjhabeng reportedly owes Sedibeng Water billions for services rendered. The matter between the party came under scrutiny in April 2021, when Sedibeng Water blamed Matjhabeng’s overdue account for delaying the time-sensitive procurement of water treating chemicals.
In mid-April, the water board was forced to bring operations at the Balkfontein Water Treatment Plant to a halt due to their inability to access chlorine gas in time.
Water supply in Matjhabeng – Welkom, Odendaalsrus, Allanridge and Virginia amongst others – was as a result halted. The company in question managed to resolve the matter. In the meantime, Sedibeng had to source chlorine gas from its other plants, resulting in the Balkfontein plant returning to operation from Tuesday 13 April. Sedibeng maintained the situation wouldn’t have happened, had they received money from Matjhabeng in time.