Kannaland mayor praises municipality as oversight visit raises ‘grave’ concerns

2015-07-22 18:35
Kannaland Mayor Jeffrey Donson. (Supplied)

Kannaland Mayor Jeffrey Donson. (Supplied)

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Cape Town - Kannaland Mayor Jeffrey Donson says he is satisfied with the state of his municipality as officials on an oversight visit on Wednesday expressed "grave" concerns.

Donson was not present at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and provincial parliament oversight visit in Ladismith because he was attending a by-election in Knysna. The Independent Civic Organisation of SA party head said he could not at present comment on issues raised there.

“That NCOP meeting was postponed twice before, you know, and this by-election was one part of my work,” he said, explaining his absence.

Asked what he thought about his municipality in general, he said, “I am very satisfied. We work very hard. I am very happy and we are going to work much better.”

He has been in the post since 2011.

'Haphazard' salary increases

But among some of the concerns raised during the visit, were "haphazard" salary increases for top officials and debt recovery.

After hearing a presentation by the municipal manager, the Western Cape Provincial Parliament’s chairperson of the standing committee on local government, Masizole Mnqasela, told News24 that radical transformation and co-operation were needed to turn things around.

“Some of the issues that have been raised are that the salaries of the CFO [chief financial officer] and mayor himself have sometimes been increased haphazardly without justification,” he said.

“Salaries are above the norm and even the department of local government has raised that there is a concern with that.”

He had requested more information in the spirit of openness and transparency, so they could “get to the bottom” of the allegations.

But Donson hit back at these claims, saying the law determined his salary, not him. “A minister says this is what a mayor or councillor will be paid.”

Asked how much he and other top executives earned, he said he could not give a figure off the top of his head because he was not at the office.

The municipality, which is about 340km north-east of Cape Town, is responsible for providing services to Calitzdorp, Ladismith, Vanwyksdorp, Zoar and farming communities.

'Not fit for 21st century'

Mnqasela said the system for managing employee performance was “not fit for the 21st century” and organograms only existed for senior management, not all levels of staff.

“They need to have an organogram with designated posts, a name for each post, how much is being paid to that person and what is their job description.”

He said there was a turnaround strategy in place for this.

Of “grave” concern to Mnqasela was the municipality’s ability to recover money owed to it and its dealings with its creditors. Residents also claimed their bills were being inflated, he said.

“We are very empathetic and honest about the fact that Kannaland must change things around. The municipality does not deny the fact that there are problems.”

NCOP provincial whip, Cathy Labuschagne, said the purpose of the visit was to make sure money was being spent for its intended purpose.

“With the municipality’s current financial status, I am not convinced that it is sustainable. If your liabilities are more than your assets, it’s problematic.”

Donson said the perception that Kannaland was bankrupt had been around since he was installed as a ward councillor in 1994. “We are not bankrupt,” he said.

He believed he worked very hard and was in the office at 07:00 every day.

“The only way people can vote for me is I have to work. I don’t only work during elections time. I work every day.”

Labuschagne said it was unacceptable that Donson was not present on Wednesday.

“If you have to choose your priority, your priority is to be accountable to other spheres of government who visit once a year.”

She said Western Cape NCOP and provincial parliament officials would be responsible for compiling a final report with recommendations. A draft was expected to be compiled within the next two weeks.

Read more on:    george  |  local government

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