Council welcomes ‘rescue’ team

2010-02-19 00:00

THE support team deployed by the province to assist the Msunduzi Municipality in turning their dire financial situation around received a warm welcome at yesterday’s exe­cutive committee (Exco) meeting.

IFP councillor Dolo Zondi said they welcomed the assistance. He said it was most unfortunate that officials had denied that the city was on the verge of a major financial crisis and misled the committee.

DA councillor Rodger Ashe said he hopes that the team will be given the support they need to carry out their tasks, especially in the midst of the bad press the municipality has received.

He said Exco had raised their concerns about the city’s poor financial situation on multiple occasions, yet officials did not seem to be concerned.

Ashe urged the team to inform them of their findings so that officials found to be in the wrong could face the necessary disciplinary action.

Deputy Mayor Mervyn Dirks said officials should not view the appointment of the task team in a bad light. He said they should embrace their appointment and see it as an opportunity for the city to turn its poor financial situation around.

“Don’t view this as a witch hunt on officials. If officials are wrong, action will be taken, but let’s work jointly on this,” he said.

Acting municipal manager Roy Bridgmohan pledged his support and welcomed the assistance.

Msunduzi Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo said the fact that they are currently in debt to the tune of R564 million indicates they need to tighten debt management

“From next week, you’ll be getting tea only. No more lunches, because we need to tighten belts. Every week Exco will start with a cash flow report. Nobody’s going to spend a cent without Exco knowing,” she said.

Hlatshwayo said the municipality has three priorities, namely repaying debt, paying staff their salaries and servicing their long-term loans.

“Everything else takes a back seat,” she said.

Ashe said he was very concerned about the municipality’s poor debt collection, and that more needs to be done to clamp down on defaulters.

Hlatshwayo said she had met with Finance MEC Ina Cronje, who asked her to forward information on government departments that owe the municipality, so she could personally follow it up.

“I’ve asked for those reports, but they’re not here,” said Hlatshwayo.

When an irate Zondi demanded to know why the mayor had not been given the reports, Bridgmohan said they were still being produced and the mayor would get them as soon as they are finalised.

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