Councils abuse process

2014-08-05 00:00

A MASSIVE R87 million has been spent by KwaZulu-Natal municipalities using emergency deviations that do not require expenditure going to tender.

A parliamentary reply to a Democratic Alliance question on tender deviations revealed that emergency regulations had been used in at least 279 cases, in transactions totalling R87 million.

The DA’s Mark Steele says that despite this “damning information”, the province’s Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department (Cogta) has not investigated any of the explanations given by these municipalities. “Effectively, nobody has been held to account,” he said.

Steele added that the response to his question showed that Umdoni Municipality was the worst offender with the highest tally of R43 million, followed by Okhlamba with R15,5 million and Uthukela with R11,9 million.

He said these municipalities had at least responded, while other local authorities had not bothered to supply information on how often they had used the emergency deviations.

According to the DA, the Municipal Finance Management Act states that normal supply chain management procedure may only be bypassed under exceptional circumstances through the use of Section 36 regulations.

Steele said his party demands that Cogta and the KZN Treasury launch a combined investigation into these transgressions and determine who should be held accountable. He added that the provincial Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) has been receiving general reports on irregular expenditure, but that the problem of Section 36 violations needs a special and comprehensive report of its own.

“Every effort must be made to establish whether these instances warranted avoiding normal procedure. Failure to do so will only encourage further exploitation of the system,” Steele said.

uMngeni Municipality came under fire last week for hiring two bodyguards using the emergency deviations. Councillors were shocked to learn that they would pay R488 800 for the mayor’s bodyguards in the next year.


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