MEC gets tough with councillors

2011-07-15 00:00

THERE will be an audit of local government councillors in KwaZulu-Natal to check if any are municipal officials or teachers without permission from the Education Department.

The MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube, gave this warning when addressing mayors and senior municipal leaders at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban yesterday.

In a no-holds-barred address, Dube laid down the law about what she expects from senior municipal leaders.

She said it is now law that municipal staff cannot hold political offices and that the audit is to check on all aspects of compliance.

Her toughest words were on issues of fraud and corruption.

“I am saying to all of you … do not say ‘I did not know’ … when a municipality is falling apart.

“This excuse will not be accepted. The word is knowing and educating yourself,” she said.

Her address was spiced with warnings and advice.

“Transparency, transparency! Communication, communication! Working with the people and not against the people.”

The MEC told municipal leaders to be open and honest with communities so that they understand the challenges of local government.

“If there is no money in the account, go and tell the community, let them scold you, but least they know and you can always say ‘I told you’.”

As for the need for KZN municipalities to achieve clean audits, Dube told the gathering, “I’m pleading with you, don’t drop the ball.”

She said her department’s oversight role is non-negotiable and if it has to, it will name and shame.

She said that next week she will be meeting mayors of municipalities that received qualified audits and would expect to be presented with plans of how they are going to clean their books.

“When we meet make sure your officials have briefed you fully and you have a detailed plan … otherwise we will tell you to go to the next room and give us a proper plan,” she added.

Dube said citizens are becoming more vigilant and more assertive as South Africa’s democracy matures.

She warned those present to know what to expect and that there is no room for mediocrity.

Her department is not going to tolerate fraud, corruption and laziness.

“We will take action because we don’t want to to be your friends. We want you to work efficiently,” the MEC warned Dube told municipal officials not to be afraid to tell councillors when things cannot be done in a certain way and not to sign documents that flout the law.

Similarly, councillors must not accept recommendations from officials that they do not understand.

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