No government is perfect, DA says
Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance has welcomed Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's findings of maladministration in the Midvaal municipality.
"Following the protector's report, the DA will be reviewing the rules that govern the actions of its public office-bearers," DA MP and chairperson of the party's federal executive James Selfe said on Tuesday.
Madonsela said earlier that maladministration was found in the DA-led municipality.
In her official report on the municipality, Madonsela noted that the appointment of Odendaal Summerton Inc as sole providers of legal services for the past 30 years without following proper procurement procedures was in violation of the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework.
She said the municipality's accounting officer had failed to comply with his accounting responsibilities, including debt collection obligation.
The municipality's handling of houses and properties donated by residents with arrears was also "irregular and did not comply with the law", the Protector concluded.
She found 85 properties were released to the municipality by owners, but some properties were not transferred. They were, however, intercepted by the law firm owned by the DA Midvaal leader Andre Odendaal.
Selfe said: "In each of these instances, the municipality had already begun a process of remedial action."
He said Midvaal mayor Timothy Nast had released a comprehensive statement in this regard.
"Mr Nast has also committed himself to carrying out the recommendations of the protector. The DA leadership takes a special interest in the performance of the governments under our control," Selfe said.
"In the weeks ahead we will take steps to prohibit DA office-bearers from doing business with DA governments. This is in line with the Business Interests of Employees Act we have passed in the Western Cape."
Nast said the municipality would report any deficiencies in internal controls.
It would also co-operate with the relevant law society and investigating body in this regard.
Nast acknowledged that Madonsela's findings were correct that procurement processes were not in place when the council was formed after the first democratic local government elections in 2000.
This was before the promulgation of the Municipal Finance Management Act in 2004.
The protector acknowledged that by 2006 a formally competitive bidding process was initiated.
"Three firms competed for this tender. Out of the three, two did not tender for the full scope of the work and were therefore disqualified. The tender was duly awarded to Odendaal and Summerton Inc," Nast said.
The protector had asked for the accounting officer to submit a report to the council within 60 days to, inter alia, investigate the conduct of the former accounting officer, chief financial officer and other officials involved.
Nast said work would begin on this report, and it would be made public in accordance with the Municipal Systems Act.
"The protector raised concerns about a potential conflict of interest in respect of the service provider and has requested that we take appropriate steps to review this. We will do so," he said.
However, Nast said it was unfortunate that there were some factual inaccuracies in the public protector's findings on this matter "despite the comprehensive submission sent to her office during the course of the investigation".
He said the executors of the late CCC Hennop wrote to the council to offer the stand as a donation in lieu of outstanding rates.
This offer did not meet the requirements of the donation policy of council, resulting in the property being bought by Vaughn Summerton in an open market at a later stage.
The municipality had no involvement in this, Nast said.
"The internal auditors, CMS Incorporated, investigated this matter and confirmed that a separate register was kept and maintained for donated property.
"I have written to the protector today to clarify the facts of this matter and to request that she adjusts her report accordingly," said Nast.
"No government is perfect. Good governments acknowledge this and strive towards the highest standards of financial management and service delivery."
Midvaal municipality had set the standard in Gauteng for good governance over the last ten years with eight unqualified audits from the auditor general under its belt, Nast said.