We met with workers of all municipalities to try and enhance the work of all municipalities because we are not looking good,” stated MEC for COGTA, Mr Mandla Msibi.
He continued: “We are one province that have serious challenges of infightings, non-spending and high debt to Eskom and so forth and so on.”
There are three municipalities that are the focus of the province’s investigation. Namely: DR JS Maroka, DR Pixly Kaseme and Govan Mbeki Municipality.
The MEC visited GMM council on Thursday, 21 November, to discuss the Terms of Reference for the Forensic Investigation in terms of section 106(1)(b) of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, Act 32 of 2000.
This act states:
- Non-performance and maladministration. (1) If an MEC has reason to believe that a municipality in the province cannot or does not fulfil a statutory obligation binding on that municipality or that maladministration, fraud, corruption or any other serious malpractice has occurred or is occurring in a municipality in the province, the MEC must – Govan Mbeki Municipality Page 5 of 7 (a) by written notice to the municipality, request the municipal council or municipal manager to provide the MEC with information required in the notice; or (b) if the MEC considers it necessary, designate a person or persons to investigate the matter. (2) In the absence of applicable provincial legislation, the provisions of sections 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the Commissions Act, 1947 (Act No. 8 of 1947) and the regulations made in terms of that Act apply, with the necessary changes as the context may require, to an investigation in terms of subsection (1)(b). (3) An MEC issuing a notice in terms of subsection (1) (a) or designating a person to conduct an investigation in terms of subsection (1) (b), must submit a written statement to the National Council of Provinces motivating the action.
The council of JS Maroka could not meet at the time requested by the MEC and was placed under section 139(1) b. “I am taking over the powers,” said the MEC. “Our responsibility is simple; it is to deliver services to our people.”
The MEC presented the Terms of Reference of an investigation to the council. Mandla requested maximum cooperation from everyone in the municipality with the investigation process.
The terms of reference are as follows:
- Acts of maladministration levelled against office bearers and the employees.
- Irregular payments of overtime.
- Non-compliance with the budget and integrated development plan processes.
- Non implementation of municipal council resolutions.
- The under-spending of municipal infrastructure grants (MIG).
- Irregular extension or termination of contracts of service providers.
- Abuse of non-compliance with the supply chain management processes.
- Misuse or abuse of municipal council assets, properties or services.
- Advertising of tenders without complying with supply chain management processes.
- Non-compliance with recruitment, selection, acting and appointment processes, including policies.
- Irregular awarding of bursaries.
- Incomplete or inaccurate financial records.
- Failure to complete initial projects that are initiated by the municipality.
- Irregular selling of RDP houses and empty stands.
- Irregular expenditure in respect of water services, infrastructure and municipal grants.
The process will be completed within 60 days. The investigating team will report to the office of the premier fortnightly on the progress.
Govan Mbeki Municipality’s council took a resolution in March 2018 to ask the MEC to investigate findings in an audit report. It was reaffirmed during the council sitting in June 2018. Here are the two resolutions:
Resolution A37/03/2018: That the MEC BE REQUESTED in terms of Section 106 of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, Act 32 of 2000, to investigate the findings in the 2016/2017 audit report and to assist the municipality to address the findings.
Resolution A63/06/2018: That point two of resolution A37/03/2018 BE REAFFIRMED: 2. That the MEC BE REQUESTED in terms of Section 106 of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, Act 32 of 2000, to investigate the findings in the 2016/2017 audit report and to assist the municipality to address the findings.
The MEC made it quite clear that they are not instigating the investigations on the request of the council but by their own resolutions.
This begs the question as to when will the MEC act on requests from a municipal council. Could this extraordinary debt that the municipality finds itself in been averted or at least been curbed if the MEC acted sooner? Why did they not respond when the leader of DA at the time, James Masangu asked them to intervene? These are some of the questions that councillors were asking.
The MEC made it clear that the investigators should not entertain any favouritism, requests or bribery. “There should be no meetings at night!” he said.
While all parties welcome the investigations, there were some reservations.
Cllr Ciska Jordaan, Caucus leader of the DA said: “Considering the state of the municipality, it is baffling to understand why suspicions only arose now when there had been an underfunded budget for close to two years and several instances including court cases, CCMA cases and an HSRC case implicating that the Municipality does not fulfil its statutory obligations.”
“In addition, the DA has also urged the MEC and the independent investigator to protect and encourage whistle blowers – both employees within the municipality and members of the general public – to speak out against any wrongdoing that is taking place in the municipality.” Ciska continued: “However, concerning the undesirable responses of the MEC to the questions and proposals that were made by the DA, we believe only time will tell whether the investigation is yet again another blindfold on the eyes of the general public who has been left without quality services for far too long; or whether there is a will to finally deal with maladministration that has brought this Municipality to its knees.”
The Bulletin will continue to update residents on the investigation as and when information becomes available.