Municipal employees applaud Pravin Gordhan’s threat to seize assets and sue

2014-09-18 13:32

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The government plans to seize assets and institute civil suits against any municipal official found guilty of corruption or fraud to recoup any money that is lost, says Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Gordhan’s announcement, made at the presidential local government summit in Midrand today, drew applause from the nearly 2 000 delegates – among them mayors, speakers, municipal managers, local business leaders and MECs for local government.

“If you are found to have benefited as a municipal official or employee in any improper conduct in tender management, we will come to you through the state attorney’s office,” said Gordhan.

Earlier, President Jacob Zuma opened the summit with an address in which he urged municipalities to go back to basics when delivering services to communities.

Zuma said there had been many municipal successes in the past 20 years, but these were not adequately communicated to the outside world.

South Africans have a skewed view of service delivery because of increased reporting by the media about service delivery protests, Zuma said.

He told the delegates it was up to them – working in local, provincial and national government – to make sure success stories were communicated and celebrated.

“I would like to congratulate all municipalities – councillors and municipal staff – who have made a difference in changing peoples’ lives and living conditions, as demonstrated in this report,” he said, referring to Statistics South Africa’s nonfinancial census of municipalities.

“However, as the presidency 20-year review highlights, challenges remain. We have to do better to promote good governance and the functioning of municipalities and also in the delivery of services,” said Zuma.

Zuma and Gordhan both hailed the Local Government Systems Amendment Act, which gives power to the minister for local government to fire improperly appointed and inadequately qualified senior municipal officials.

“The government has responded to improve professionalism and the management of local government by introducing amendments to local government legislation, for example the Municipal System Amendment Act. There should be no compromise in ensuring that officials possess the necessary minimum skills,” said Zuma.

He called on struggling municipalities to emulate those who were succeeding and in particular those who received clean audit outcomes in the financial statements.

“There are municipalities that are functioning effectively, with effective political and administrative systems, with strong internal audit and financial management structures. There are municipalities in which councils are actively involved in monitoring the implementation of all governance resolutions. These municipalities also have a zero tolerance to poor performance, and conduct regular performance reviews and implement corrective measures where needed.

“The daily and monthly financial management disciplines are strictly observed, and the yearly financial statements are signed off on a quarterly basis. These municipalities are characterised by clean administration where the staff complement as a collective prioritises fraud prevention and risk management,” said Zuma.

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