Heads to roll as Zuma signs probe order

2010-01-10 12:55

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has issued a proclamation authorising the most

extensive Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation into local government

corruption.

The SIU says the investigation was prompted by the

auditor-general’s reports on municipalities. The move will see the institution

probe ­alleged widespread financial irregularities in all 24 municipalities in

North West. The probe will include the province’s four districts and 20 ­local

municipalities.

Zuma signed the proclamation in November and the investigation will

include offences allegedly committed between January 2005 and November

2009.

In the proclamation the president says it is necessary for the

allegations to be probed and that justifiable civil disputes emanating from such

­investigations should be put through adjudication.

“The investigation is in the planning phase and the total amount of

money involved will be quantified as it unfolds,” SIU spokesperson Narushka

Moodley said.

Moodley said the investigation would be conducted in phases and

could take between 18 and 24 months, depending on the complexity of matters

referred to the SIU.

The SIU will investigate:

  • Maladministration;
  • Unlawful conduct by councillors and

    municipal officials;

  • Unlawful appropriation of public money

    or property;

  • ?Unlawful, irregular or unapproved

    acquisitive acts, transactions, measures or practices having a bearing upon

    state property;

  • Intentional or negligent loss of

    public money or damage to property; and Unlawful or improper conduct by any

    person which has caused or might cause serious harm to the ­interests of the

    public or any ­category thereof.


Other offences allegedly committed fall under the Prevention and

Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

These include “acquisition of private interest in contracts,

agreements or investments of a public body, being an accessory to an ­offence

and attempt, conspiracy and inducing another person to commit an offence”.

The SIU was unable to provide an exact number of people to be

­investigated.

Among the 14 alleged offences are:

  • ?Losses of municipal funds due to

    theft, fraud and misallocation;

  • ?Misuse and misappropriation of funds

    from the municipal infrastructure grant;

  • ?Misuse of municipal resources for

    private benefit;

  • ?Mismanagement of expenditure of

    municipal funds and resources;

  • ?Losses caused by inadequate management

    and lack of control over municipal contracts and resources;

  • Interference by councillors in the

    administration of municipal ­affairs in contravention of the ­Municipal Systems

    Act and Muni­cipal ­Finance Management Act;

  • ?Remuneration of non-performing and

    under-performing staff members without any disciplinary steps being taken;

    and?The appointment and disproportionate

    remuneration of candidates who were under-qualified and unsuitable.


The municipalities are also ­accused of making appointments and

promoting staff in violation of labour laws and policies.

Six of the municipalities, namely Moretele, Kgetlengrivier,

Kagisano, Ventersdorp, Maquassi Hills and Madibeng are among the 64 across the

country on the national treasury’s distress list of most poorly performing

municipalities.

“The SIU will facilitate the recovery of monies lost as a result of

maladministration, fraud and/or corruption,” Moodley said.

She said disciplinary files would be forwarded to the

municipalities to take action against officials who had contravened the law and

that the SIU would also recommend ­systemic changes to avoid any future abuse of

systems used by the municipalities.

This is not the first investigation into local government affairs,

with the SIU having conducted investigations into several municipalities in

Eastern Cape and the Free State province.

North West department of local government and traditional affairs

spokesperson Ditshaba Makhathe said he was unable to comment on whether

officials and councillors who were under investigation would be suspended.

Moodley said the SIU was working closely with the Hawks where

crimes were suspected to have been committed. Possible criminal cases would be

referred to the ­National Prosecuting Authority.

“We are trying to capacitate ­municipality tendering processes and

to ensure that those officials ­responsible for supply chain management are

suitably qualified,” Makhathe said.


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