Council lifestyle probes

2010-05-03 00:00

A FIRM of forensic investigators is to be appointed to conduct a wide-ranging investigation at the Msunduzi Municipality.

This comes after Msunduzi administrator Johann Mettler said it is time to act on allegations about irregularities at the municipality.

Mettler promised that “appropriate action” will be taken against individuals found to have acted in an irregular manner.

The investigation will look into the municipality’s supply chain management (SCM) division following numerous allegations that staff in the division have received kickbacks for awarding contracts, said Mettler.

“The general perception is that staff in SCM are corrupt … some of them own luxury vehicles and [are] constructing houses, which warrants lifestyle audits,” said Mettler.

He said the procurement process for servi­ces and goods will be investigated in the same vein as transactions made under the emergency/urgent clause, as there are indications that the clause has been abused.

Mettler said salaries will need to be reviewed so the probe can find out whether there are ghost employees and whether there is a need for temporary workers. An audit will examine salaries paid out to certain municipal staff members to determine whether they performed the duties they were paid for.

The administrator said there have been instances where service providers classified as small, medium and micro enterprises were paid twice a month, and their status will be assessed.

The investigation will establish whether service deli­very actually took place before creditors were paid and whether the relevant orders, invoices and signatures were obtained.

The entire tender process will also be investigated to see whether the proper policies were followed, said Mettler.

The forensic investigators will also review the credit management policy and whe­ther it has been implemented effectively.

Mettler said it is odd that no service level agreement has been signed between the municipality and the appointed meter reading company, Reotic Meter Reading Solutions, which is a subsidiary of Unique Mbane.

This is the company which was awarded the controversial R240 million, high-tech smart meter reading contract.

The Witness reported two weeks ago that Mettler and his team will probe the awarding of the contract.

“Not all the meters are being read, resulting in reduced revenue since consumers are not being billed accurately [and we need to] assess the collectability of the debts.”

Mettler said his team has also discovered that municipal infrastructure grant (MIG) funds have not been kept in a separate bank account, “which increases the likelihood of the misuse of MIG funds”.

It would have to be established “whether the funds from MIG grants are utilised for projects other than MIG projects, resulting in apparent misappropriation of MIG funds”.

The municipality’s contract financial register also faces scrutiny, said Mettler, and he needs to “ascertain whether contracts are being awarded to the same service providers [and] the frequency of the same provider being utilised”.

He asked: “Do the same individuals have various businesses contracting with the municipality [and] are the contractors actually rendering the services in terms of the contracts?”

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