Msunduzi loses track of money

2008-02-22 00:00

POOR record keeping by various business units in the Msunduzi Municipality has left council unable to establish how much money it is owed by 46 employees who abandoned their studies after using council’s employee bursary scheme.

The human resources unit has requested that council write off payments, which could amount to thousands, as bad debt as there are no records of payment vouchers needed to verify the amounts paid to educational institutions at which the employees studied.

Employees who dropped out of their courses are liable to repay council over a 10-month period.

Acting SEM for sound governance and human resources, Lulama Mbatha, told the executive committee (Exco) that the amounts paid were not recorded on staffers’ personnel or bursary files.

That council was being asked to write off an unknown amount astonished Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo.

“How much money is going down the drain?” she asked.

“How are we supposed to write off an unknown amount? It is unacceptable that employees said they were using council money to study, but did not,” Hlatshwayo said.

Exco councillors called on the responsible individuals in each of the business units to account for the poor record-keeping and for more stringent measures of monitoring bursaries awarded to be put in place.

The human resources unit took over the handling of bursary allocations in 2004. An internal audit conducted by the unit of all employees who used the bursary scheme revealed the lack of records and found that 219 employees received payment vouchers from the scheme since the early 1990s.

Mbatha said the finance unit has had difficulty tracking down information from the employees, business units and institutions to determine how much was paid.

Currently, 153 employees have provided information confirming their completion of qualifications. Eleven employees who no longer work at the municipality are personally funding the completion of their studies. Nine employees have acknowledged debt to the municipality and deducations will be made.

DA ward councillor Mark Steele asked what is going to be done about those responsible for the lack of payment and the poor record keeping.

ANC councillor Pops Chetty said that such lack of financial record keeping could see the municipality following in the footsteps of municipalities that have fallen prey to financial mismanagement.

Exco told the human resources unit to take back the report and add the necessary information on which council can base their decision.

thabi@witness.co.za

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