Officials accused of corruption

2012-05-31 00:00

OFFICIALS of the uThukela District have bled the municipality of R12 million in a scam, where the delivery of water was deliberately sabotaged for personal gain.

Speaking prior to tabling her R1,2 billion budget in the legislature yesterday, Co-operative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube said the R12 million stolen was enough to provide a village with sustainable water delivery.

“Most alarming has been some instances where these senior municipal officials deliberately sabotaged water service delivery for personal gain,” she said. Dube said the scam involved municipal officials prioritising the use of water tankers to deliver water to people despite there being sufficient water in the Woodstock Dam to meet needs.

She said it appeared that huge amounts were paid for the use of 10 000-litre water tankers and investigations had revealed that the numberplates of the tankers actually belonged to motorcycles. Five people, including three municipal employees, were arrested. Dube said one senior official had resigned, while the others were to face disciplinary action.

“We also uncovered that officials were running their own businesses, contracting with the municipality and siphoning monies from the municipality,” she said. Dube added that some of these officials were running a security company and providing guards to the municipality, charging for more services than were provided.

“A supplier was also defrauding the municipality in conjunction with municipal officials by not supplying goods or by over-charging for goods and services provided,” she said.

Her department was working with the Police Commercial Crime Unit, Hawks and Asset Forfeiture Unit in investigating the matter.

The MEC added that owing to the negative impact of municipal supply chain management units’ poor decisions in infrastructure delivery, as well as their exposure to fraud and corruption, her department was investigating the feasibility of a single supply chain shared service for local government in the province.

This would curb municipalities’ abuse of section 36 of the Municipal Finance Management Act, which allows municipalities to deviate from regular procurement policies in emergencies.

Dube said they had discovered that supply chain management irregularities were the major cause of irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, with municipalities excessively using procurement regimens reserved for emergencies without cause.

She said audits of KZN municipalities showed there had been approximately R520,6 million in unauthorised expenditure in the past two financial years; R2,1 billion in irregular expenditure and R11,17 million in fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Meanwhile, the successful turnaround of Msunduzi Municipality, whose council unanimously approved its budget for the 2012/13 financial year yesterday, has given the capital city a good chance of becoming KwaZulu-Natal’s next metro.

Dube said Msunduzi had transformed itself into “an institution of hope and pride”.

“At the rate at which they are improving, Msunduzi is putting a compelling case for the exploration of an additional metropolitan municipality in the province,” she said.

Addressing progress on the Manase report on financial mismanagement of the eThekwini Metro, Dube said disciplinary action was being taken against 10 councillors and 123 officials implicated in the report.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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