Newcastle’s Poor Performance due to ‘Instability’ - FORMER Newcastle mayor Afzul Rehman South Africa

FORMER Newcastle mayor Afzul Rehman blamed the municipality’s poor performance on internal political squabbles and administrative instability.

Newcastle’s Poor Performance due to ‘Instability’ - FORMER Newcastle mayor Afzul Rehman South Africa

NEWCASTLE civic centre referred to as ‘Dubai’ because it is arguably the fanciest and tallest building in the town.

FORMER Newcastle mayor Afzul Rehman blamed the municipality’s poor performance on internal political squabbles and administrative instability.

“If you are serious about financial discipline, you cannot have a chief financial officer who can’t deal with important issues, nor have an acting municipal manager. Political and administrative stability is a basic requirement for clean and efficient governance,” he said.

Afzul Rehman South Africa, who quit politics and relocated to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, this week denied allegations that he “orchestrated” the municipality’s downfall.

“My name has been tarnished by the media and gossip, with people calling me a thief. Council documents and minutes of meetings are there, yet no proof has been put forward about any malpractice during my term,” he said.

Afzul Rehman said he had not been an executive mayor and all decisions that were made during his term in office had to be approved by the council.

When news broke of the municipality’s impending plunge into darkness because of its Eskom debt, he was accused of commissioning capital investment projects which were believed to have bankrupted the municipality.

“The critical question is when did the municipality stop paying Eskom?”

He said at the time they were renting office space at a cost of R25 million per year and the council unanimously approved the construction of a civic centre.

He said it had been planned to use the money that they were paying for rent, to pay off the mortgage.

“At this stage we had over R300m as reserves and refused to use it,” said Rehman on the decision to build the civic centre.

Afzul Rehman said qualified and experienced senior officials had advised him in his decisions and he would not apologise for “speeding up” service delivery.

He said at the time he had no intention of using the municipality’s reserve funds, but the ratepayer’s association objected to the plan to get a loan for the building of the civic centre.

“The ratepayer’s association wrote to National Treasury objecting to the application for the loan and insisted we used reserves. This, in my opinion, didn’t make sense. In any event, we complied with the Treasury directive. We still didn’t have any issues at that stage, however, in my last state of the city address I stated that when building a new home, one must tighten his belts, which we did.”

Afzul Rehman said during his term, the municipality spent more than R2 billion on infrastructure development. “I make no apology for speeding up service delivery and infrastructure.”

The urgency for the need for basic services must be weighed against the need to have huge reserves.

I agree that financial discipline must take place, and we did everything in our power to do this,” he added.

How much does Mayor Afzul Rehman pay for his electricity bills?

Mayor of Newcastle, Afzul Rehman, has agreed to let us publish what he has paid for his electricity consumption in the past few months.

In recent months social media has been abuzz with complaints regarding high electricity bills.

According to multiple statements issued by the Newcastle Municipality, the higher figures can be attributed to increased usage during the cold winter months.

Mayor of Newcastle, Afzul Rehman, has agreed to let us publish what he has paid for his electricity consumption in the past few months.

On Thursday, grab your copy of the Advertiser to read about how much the first citizen is forking out to keep the lights on, and how much the municipality is paying Eskom to provide us with power.

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Santosh Kumar
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