ANC Limpopo declares war on administration team

2014-10-19 15:00

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Administration team sent to save the province from ruin is hindering rather than helping, says provincial government

The ANC in Limpopo has declared war on the administration team sent in to save the province from financial ruin.

It has gone as far as blaming the administrators for the “increasing maternal and infant mortality rate reported in many hospitals, including Mankweng, George Masebe and Maphutha Malatji”, and has pointed out that the provincial department of health is run by the administrators.

Before the intervention, Limpopo was so cash-strapped that it failed to pay civil servants their over-time money and imposed stringent austerity measures to try to make up for the budget shortfalls.

The province also requested a bailout of R700?million, or an advance from the Treasury, after banks refused to give departments loans because they had exceeded their overdraft facility.

The party has given Premier Stanley Mathabatha and his executive a mandate to “make direct representation to Cabinet on the work of the administrators and the negative impact of their continued presence on the province”.

Tensions between the provincial government and the administrators, who took over five of Limpopo’s departments in December 2011, have been bubbling for some time.

But the ANC issued a statement this week that left no doubt about its unhappiness.

In the statement, ANC provincial secretary Nocks Seabi said its alliance partners, Cosatu and the SA Communist Party, were of the view that the “administrators were no longer serving the interests of the people of Limpopo”.

“In particular, the ANC in Limpopo has noted the serious allegations of looting, maladministration and poor service delivery made against the administrators, which include that the audit opinion of the Roads Agency Limpopo and department of education continue to regress under their watchful eyes.”

The governing party said the votes it received during the national elections in May “indicated the confidence the people of Limpopo have in the elected leadership of the ANC to lead the province and not in some government officials”.

Cosatu in Limpopo is so keen to see the back of the administrators that it has organised a huge march at the end of this month to call for the team’s immediate withdrawal.

The administrators, led by Monde Tom, have been hailed by the Treasury for successfully stabilising Limpopo’s finances and improving service delivery.

More than two months ago, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene announced that the administrators were to be withdrawn from Limpopo because their work was mostly complete. The national government is supposed to keep monitoring the five departments – the provincial treasury and the departments of education, roads and transport, public works, and health and social development.

But for the withdrawal to go ahead, a memorandum of understanding must be signed by the Limpopo government and the Nene-led interministerial task team. This still hasn’t happened because Mathabatha said his executive team wasn’t happy with some of the conditions set out in the memorandum.

Sources in the provincial government told City Press the premier was worried that his executive would not be able to make major decisions without input from the national government. The departments of health and public works are, sources say, the sticking points.

Mathabatha’s spokesperson, Kenny Mathivha, would only say: “It is true that we were not happy with some of the conditions I can’t disclose.”

Cosatu Limpopo secretary Mkhomazi Twala said although his organisation acknowledged the “good job done by administrators” to stabilise finances, their “continued stay is hampering service delivery”.

“Procurement of small things has to be approved by them in a time-consuming bureaucratic process, which has led to slow turnaround time of medical deliveries and thus medical supply shortages at some hospitals,” Twala said.

“[Mathabatha] was elected to lead Limpopo and he must be allowed to do that with his team. We will go out in a massive march on October 30 to demand their immediate withdrawal.”

Forum of Limpopo Entrepreneurs spokesperson Siviko Mabunda said the administrators were killing businesses in Limpopo. “They’re not paying service providers, not advertising tenders and thus generally impeding service delivery. Why are they still here? Does this mean the elected leadership in Limpopo can’t lead?”

National Treasury spokesperson Jabulani Sikhakhane did not respond to detailed questions emailed to him.

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