Municipality on verge of bankruptcy denies spending R130 000 on fast food

2013-10-10 15:25

A financially troubled North West municipality has denied spending R130 000 buying fast food in just over a month, as was alleged by the DA.

The DA claims Mafikeng Local Municipality, which received its fourth consecutive disclaimer opinion from the Auditor-General this year, has wastefully spent R132 585 of council money buying food from Nando’s over 35 days between March 15 and April 18 this year.

Speaking for the municipality, councillor Pontsho Tabane admitted that the municipality had spent money at Nando’s around March this year, but denied the amount stated by the DA.

“We had a cleaning campaign earlier this year where we bought food for about 2 300 people who participated, but it’s impossible that the money spent could be anywhere near what the DA has given you. The DA statement is fallacious,” Tabane said.

He could not, however, say how much was spent on food for the campaign and referred enquiries to the municipal manager, Kgotso Rabanye, who said he was in a meeting and did not respond to text message sent to him.

The DA leader in North West, Chris Hattingh, said it had emerged in a municipal public accounts committee meeting that the money was spent on Nando’s.

According to Hattingh’s calculations, R132 585 “means that the council spent R3 789 on Nando’s, on average, per day during that period”.

“The council bought up to 4 434 chicken burgers, 947 family pack meals or 4 928 quarter chickens,” he said.

“Everyone loves Nando’s. But politicians and council employees earn salaries and can buy it for themselves. It is not acceptable to use money meant for service delivery to buy Nando’s.”

Hattingh said the DA will urge the Public Protector to investigate the Nando’s expenditure if the Auditor-General is unable to get to the bottom of this allegation.

“This is without a doubt the most excessive and pointless instance of fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the North West province’s history.”

Meanwhile, Tabane has acknowledged that Mafikeng municipality was unable to provide a paper trail for auditing purposes and that it was now investigating issues raised by the Auditor-General in his damning report on the council’s finances.

Tabane further said the council had opened a case with the security agencies who were investigating the hacking of the municipal bank account. He said council employees and outsiders had colluded and used the money to buy clothes, among other things.

Tabane could not say how much of the council’s money had been stolen. He said the council was also investigating about R38 million of wasteful expenditure.

Tabane also acknowledged that the municipality was experiencing financial trouble and had been warned by the Auditor-General to get its house in order in terms of cash flow and accountability or face bankruptcy.

“The Auditor-General has raised issues and said if we don’t take care of our cash flow the municipality will go bankrupt,” he said.

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