Protector finds irregularities in Balfour
Johannesburg - Evidence of widespread maladministration has been found at Dipaleseng municipality in Balfour, Mpumalanga, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Wednesday.
She said her findings, released at a news briefing in Balfour on Wednesday, showed administrative deficiencies in various departments.
"The budget and treasury office of the municipality is deficient and its failure to fully comply with the credit control policy of the municipality in respect of the recovering of debts and revenue, amounts to maladministration," Madonsela told reporters.
She suggested remedial action which included the municipal manager taking urgent steps to ensure the municipality’s full compliance with its Credit Control Policy.
The investigation was conducted over 18 months and came after residents of Siyathemba violently protested over the executive mayor and the council of the municipality in July 2009.
They complained about a lack of service delivery and public facilities in the township.
A fence at a public school in Balfour was never completed, and the municipality had no emergency and disaster plans in place, the community contended.
Residents also accused the municipality of having no credit control/debt collection policy, and a finance department with incompetent staff.
Other complaints were that the infrastructure and equipment of the Balfour police station were in a dilapidated state, and a number of RDP houses had never been built.
President Jacob Zuma paid a surprise visit to Balfour on August 4, 2009 and spoke to the community about its grievances.
However, early in February 2010, violence flared up again in Siyathemba. After visiting the informal settlement that February, Madonsela decided to conduct an investigation into the allegations.
Madonsela in her report added: "It was evident from the investigation that a number of the complaints lodged and allegations made were based on a misunderstanding or a lack of information".
She said complainants were under the mistaken impression that the construction of a new taxi rank, the renovation of the Hor en Laerskool Balfour, the emergency and disaster planning for the area, the benefits and salary increases of members of the municipal council, and the building of houses in Siyathemba were the sole responsibilities of the municipality.
"The lack of information and the said misunderstanding could, at least in part, be ascribed to the failure by the municipality to communicate properly with members of its community when complaints were lodged."
Despite this a number of these complaints were resolved during the course of the investigation, she said.