Mr Fix-it cleans house

2010-04-09 00:00

THE future of senior Msunduzi officials is hanging in the balance following the release of a damning report yesterday that indicates that they are being probed for their roles in the mismanagement of the municipality.

The report, tabled by Msunduzi administrator Johann Mettler at yesterday’s executive committee (Exco) meeting as a short- to medium-term turn-around strategy, stated that deputy municipal managers (DMMs) have performed poorly and will soon face the music.

In order to stabilise the municipality, all DMMs and process managers will be reviewed as individuals, and disciplinary processes will be initiated before April 30, the report said.

As it stands, chief financial officer Roy Bridgmohan, DMM for community services Zwe Hulane, DMM for human resources Kevin Perumal, acting DMM for infrastructure services Thokozani Maseko and acting DMM for development services S’khumbuzo Mpanza, as well as their process managers, will have to answer for their roles in the near demise of the municipality.

A few of the issues Bridgmohan will have to answer for include:

• His inability to manage cash flow processes and implications

• Poor budget management and overspending of the current budget

• No procedures and controls on operating and capital expenditure requests

• Poor debt management, and

• A poor credit control policy, which is readily open to fraud.

Some of the matters Hulane will have to respond to include:

• The health risks posed by poor refuse collection

• The overall poor waste management operation

• Insufficient protection of council property

• Failure to monitor and control informal traders, and

• The lack of a proper cleaning programme in grassed areas.

Perumal, who is also the acting municipal manager, will be probed on various subjects, which include the following:

• The unavailability of records relating to professional qualifications

• Inability to conform to labour legislation in the overtime policy

• Failure to align salary structures with grading levels

• No recruitment, performance management and appointment processes in place, and

• The absence of a proper disciplinary policy.

Among other matters, Maseko will have to answer to:

• Poor management of roads, water, sanitation and electricity services

• High water and electricity losses

• Unacceptable overall service levels, and

• Outdated, uncontrolled and non-existent fleet management and mechanical workshop facilities.

Mpanza also faces queries, which include:

• The major liability that comes with the continuation of the servicing and functioning of Oribi Airport

• Low market returns

• Outstanding housing debtors

• Poor forestry profits, and

• Failure to account for quarry revenue.

The legal team will also be probed and some of the questions they will be expected to answer are about:

• Poor legal support

• Failure to provide legal opinions in some cases, and

• Poorly considered legal comments in some instances.

Ineffective meter reading is still a major problem and the controversial R240 million high-tech water and electricity meter reading contract will be revised by June 30.

The problems highlighted represent a mere fraction of the matters that will be tackled by Mettler and the provincial task team, and strategies to turn performance around, as well as target dates, are already in place.

Mettler said the turnaround strategy will assist “with the ills that beset the municipality, especially management ills”.

He said the strategy was presented after he and the provincial task team had conducted investigations and engaged with all the necessary systems and processes.

“We want to be open and frank with the residents of Msunduzi,” said Mettler.

Msunduzi Mayor Mike Tarr said they are aiming for transparency and the public deserves to know exactly what is going on in the municipality.

Although they have identified the problems, at this stage the names of the responsible officials are being withheld for legal reasons, he said.

DA caucus leader Bill Lambert said: “We’re all committed to this and the sole objective is to put Pietermaritzburg first.”

To download the PDF of the Msunduzi Municipality Turnover Strategy (50MB), click here.

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