The Cape Navigator

Seaside Community Newspaper

Cape Town

Cape Town Mayor Suspends Urban Waste Management Head Amid Bribery Allegations and Waste Collection Crisis

Michael Hawthorne

In a decisive move to address the ongoing waste collection crisis in Cape Town, Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has successfully tabled a motion to suspend the Executive Director of Urban Waste Management, Luzuko Mdunyelwa. The decision, made during a special closed council meeting on Monday, follows the collapse of waste management services in various areas of the city and allegations of bribery within the City of Cape Town administration.

Despite the allocation of approximately R500 million to contractors for township waste clearance from July 2021 to June 2023, the city received a staggering 18,902 complaints. Extortion rackets in communities exacerbated the situation, leading to contractor withdrawals due to safety concerns. The collapse of waste management services prompted the city to bring waste management in-house in July 2023 under Grant Twigg, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for urban waste management.

However, the transition to in-house services faced challenges, including a lack of sufficient trucks and personnel. A leaked forensic investigation report in December 2023 implicated Twigg and Mdunyelwa in the waste management collapse, alleging unauthorized changes to the waste management model and a lack of due diligence.

The report prompted opposition parties to demand Twigg’s dismissal, but Hill-Lewis defended him, emphasizing ongoing efforts to improve service delivery. Twigg acknowledged issues with contractor management and highlighted that these problems existed before any forensic examination.

In response to the suspension, Mayor Hill-Lewis expressed concerns about the city not receiving value for its money and stressed the need for better value from the City’s waste management spending. He outlined the desired outcome of the suspension, aiming for cleaner informal settlements with a consistent and dependable weekly collection.

Despite the suspension, questions remain about potential financial benefits received by City administrators from contractors. City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo acknowledged the challenges in urban waste management and assured residents that alternative arrangements had been made to mitigate the impact.

Following the suspension, the ANC has called for a broader investigation into the systemic issues, accusing the DA of misgovernance, corruption, and service delivery ineptitude. ANC caucus leader Banele Majingo stated that the entire DA leadership in the City of Cape Town should be held accountable.

The situation has sparked political tensions, with opposition parties calling for Twigg’s suspension and expressing dissatisfaction with the City’s response to waste management issues. Rise Mzansi reiterated its call for Twigg’s resignation, while ANC councillor Lwazi Phakade emphasized the need for collective accountability in addressing the crisis.

Amid the political turmoil, Mayor Hill-Lewis defended Twigg against what he termed “political trash talk.” He clarified that action against Twigg was not warranted, emphasizing Twigg’s oversight responsibility and his role in advocating for waste management reforms in informal settlements.

The fallout from the waste management crisis continues to unfold, with residents and political leaders demanding accountability and effective solutions to address the longstanding challenges in waste collection services.


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