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Cape Town waste management director suspended as communities drown in trash

Cape Town waste management director suspended as communities drown in trash
Filth is piling up in Cape Town townships following the collapse of waste collection services. (Photo: Velani Ludidi)

The executive director responsible for waste management in Cape Town Luzuko Mdunyelwa has been officially placed on suspension following the collapse of waste management in areas of the city. He had been a senior official in local government for 25 years.

The City of Cape Town has officially suspended the executive director of urban waste management, Luzuko Mdunyelwa.

Daily Maverick revealed last week that Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis tabled a motion to suspend Mdunyelwa during a confidential council meeting. Mdunyelwa is being fingered as the person responsible for the collapse of waste management.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Cape Town mayor moves to suspend director following collapse of waste management

During the meeting, Hill-Lewis confirmed that contractors were hired to clean the filthy townships across Cape Town, at a cost of about R500-million. Contracts started from July 2021 until June 2023 and ran monthly. However, rubbish continued to pile up in and around the Mother City. The city has also had to direct its own staff to carry out the cleaning in areas where contractors were hired to do the job.

Suspended City of Cape executive director, Luzuko Mdunyelwa. (Photo: Supplied)

Hill-Lewis issued Mdunyelwa a seven-day notice to provide a response explaining why he should not be suspended. Speaking to Daily Maverick on Friday, Mdunyelwa said he wrote to the city manager asking for an explanation as to why he was placed on suspension.

“He decided to continue (with the suspension) and has not explained why he was suspending me.”

Mdunyelwa also stated that he had not received any of the reports that were given to the council.

He said he would follow the due process of the disciplinary process and fight against his suspension. He declined to respond to questions as to why he believed he was being unfairly targeted.

Mdunyelwa has been in local government for the past 25 years as a senior official.

A source inside the municipality claimed that Mdunyelwa was being used as a scapegoat for the rot in the council.

dumping site, waste management

This open field in Nyanga has become a dumping site for residents. (Photo: Velani Ludidi)

“In June 2023, the city presented a new waste management plan and received approval. However, the city manager decided against it for reasons only known to him,” said the source, who requested to be quoted anonymously. The source claimed also that two reports tabled in council gave no reference to Mdunyelwa, yet he was now in the centre of the conflict. “The mayor is not giving the public full information about what is happening. The administration finds itself caught in a big infighting among political leaders. Mdunyelwa took action by suspending four managers who were discovered colluding with contractors yet he is seen as the bad guy now,” said the source.

The City continues to face challenges in waste collection. GroundUp reported this week that in some areas of Phillipi East, rubbish has not been collected for nine months.

Responding to questions about Mdunyelwa’s suspension, speaker Felicity Purchase said details of the suspension served at the Special Confidential Council meeting would remain confidential until due process — in accordance with national legislation — has followed its full and proper course. “There are still further steps which must be followed in this process. While I can assure the public that the matter is being attended to, as resolved at the meeting, I will not be issuing any further comment until the legislated process has been completed.”

The City of Cape Town also declined to give more information stating: “The City previously commissioned an independent investigation into waste management services challenges and is currently following due process in this regard. In the interim, new contractors have been appointed where required and additional staff are being deployed to clear waste management backlogs.” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Peter Atller says:

    And what about the political head , MMC Grant Twigg? Politicians are all the same, protect each other.

  • Exist Nomad says:

    Clearly an Eastern Cape style corruption of bogus contracts.. Millions for services not rendered. And I bet nobody will go to jail for this thievery. And so Western Cape too begins to fall. It was inevitable.

  • Matthew Quinton says:

    If you look at the timing, he has had the job for 25 years… back when the ANC was busy messing up CT.

    Good that the DA is removing the last of the reminding ANC appointees. Cut out the rot and save the body.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    The world over, where is the sleaze, the Mafia type control, its waste and contracts… NYC…Mafia, Jhb, KZN….why not too, Cape Town

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    This article highlights a single compelling difference between the DA and the ANC.

    The DA takes disciplinary action when required. The ANC does zero.

    As an aside I would like to know who this anonymous source is who makes disparaging statements about the city, scapegoats etc. and also whether the veracity of his/her plainly subjective opinion been properly vetted by DM.

    If not then it is irresponsible journalim to have allowed it to make print.

  • Veritas Scriptum says:

    Public open spaces and parks on the Atlantic seaboard side have been neglected this year. Why?
    The DA needs more open and frank public participation platforms on social media where residents can engage with the City and province. Communities are excluded from decisions that affect them directly. Refuse is just one of them.

  • David Mitchley says:

    In the past we didn’t have the problem of corrupt tenders or infighting between rival service providers because these types of services were rendered by the local municipalities and not some private company getting rich off rate payers money.

  • vnwray says:

    Definitely time for a new president. Time for a good clean up through all departments to address corruption and incompetence and fake qualifications.

  • Denise Smit says:

    It is election time and DM must find some dirt against DA run municipality. Look at what the writer says: “some areas of Phillipi” = most probably only those too dangerous to go in. “the rot in the City”. Apologise or withdraw this article DM

  • Denise Smit says:

    You are becoming an IOL paper

  • Jeff Robinson says:

    Do affected communities make any effort to address the problem themselves?

  • Roger Jones says:

    Fires, rubbish, criminals lurking in the mountains, urban spread, what’s next?

  • Arno Stijlen says:

    Please CPT must not go into decline like most other municipalities north of the Orange River. Zero service delivery – only decline …… and corruption and Cader deployment.

    • Coen Gous says:

      Despite claims by DA supporters, this city, municipality, appears to be no different than any other municipality in the whole of SA. A country going to waste!

      • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

        Exactly what I always say western cape is not a country outside south Africa.
        No amount of PR will change that.
        South Africa has been mismanaged and rundown by corruption in the ANC led government.
        The DA has tried to prove they can manage WC and they did a good job.
        Does it help the country?
        The elections will tell.

  • It is heartbreaking. This mess does not come from only this or last year. I have been visiting Cape Town for quite a while now and picked up on this mess already 5 year ago. It is as if Cape Town wants to hide this side of the City’s story. Same as in Mauritius and Hawaii, Paris etc. etc. only window dressing for the world to see the beauty and the excellence.

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