OPERATIONS across all Eastern Cape municipalities are expected to come to a standstill today as more than 10 000 union members march to the Bhisho legislature to hand over a memorandum to premier Noxolo Kiviet.
South African Municipal Workers' Union of South Africa provincial secretary Simphiwe Ndunyana said the march would be the start of widespread demonstrations throughout the province over "rampant corruption".
Ndunyana said at the heart of the problem was the indefinite extension of contracts of acting municipal managers and directors, as well as the outsourcing of basic services such as refuse collection, water meter reading, grass cutting and the provision of security services for municipal buildings across all 55 municipalities in the Eastern Cape.
The union had more than 20000 registered members, and "we will bus half of them, which is about 10000, to the meeting point [today]", he said.
Workers from as far as Port Elizabeth, Lusikisiki, Matatiele and Mthatha are expected to gather at the Victoria Grounds in King William's Town at noon.
"We plan to hand over the memorandum to the premier at 2pm. It's a case of saying, enough is enough," Ndunyana said.
He said the problems experienced in local government were due to the "flouting of the Municipal Systems Act where councils such as Nelson Mandela metro, the Joe Gqabi district municipality, the Sakhisizwe and Mnquma local municipalities" continue to renew contracts of municipal managers and directors for more than three months, contrary to what is allowed by law.
"In some cases we have managers who have been given acting allowances for years. There is rampant corruption and nepotism because no one is made to account for the misuse of funds.
"We have municipalities where basic services such as the provision of water is contracted out to a private company. The company is now responsible for fixing leaking taps. At whose expense?
"Yours and mine. As a result, ratepayers have to pay more money for basic services. That is unacceptable."