Protecting the State’s rights

2012-11-14 00:00

LARGE numbers of civil servants from national and provincial government are enriching themselves illegally in KZN through municipal tenders.

This was one of a series of problems picked up in an assessment of KZN municipalities by a joint sitting of the KZN Finance and Co-operative Governance committees in the legislature.

The other concerns raised were the lack of blacklisting of errant companies who continue to do business with municipalities.

There was also the issue of high levels of irregular expenditure in municipalities across the province. On officials doing business with municipalities, Finance Committee chairperson Belinda Scott pointed out that this was illegal in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).

She said the Auditor-General (A-G) found many instances of this practice in municipalities.

The joint sitting passed a resolution that the A-G provide it with a list of officials with municipal contracts and where possible the Persal (salary) numbers of such persons by the end of this month. The list would then be handed to the Integrity Unit in the Premier’s Office for immediate disciplinary or legal action where necessary, and to report progress on this by the end of January 2013.

Scott said the joint committee was concerned that the province was not on top of blacklisting errant companies. “Just one company sits on the list in the whole of KZN. eThekwini has got its own blacklist and we have asked them how they have legally done this. National Treasury has warned about blacklisting, saying it contravenes the rights of the companies. I think this is nonsense. What about the rights of the state?” she asked.

Scott said too much use was being made of emergency measures, even when they were not warranted, to avoid contracts going out to tender. She said the committee remained concerned about the lack of capacity in supply chain management units, which opened up space for fraud and corruption.

They also noticed an inordinate increase in electricity and water losses, said Scott. She added that this could be because of ageing infrastructure.

Bizarre: probe finds strange goings on

THE joint committee in their assessment came across some bizarre situations at municipalities.

MPL Johan Krog (DA) spoke of the National Freedom Party-run Mtubatuba Municipality, which appointed a student and the president of the University of Zululand SRC, Siyabonga Ntuli (30), as municipal manager, at an exorbitant salary of over R500 000. Krog said that within months the municipality was in trouble and the KZN MEC of the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube, had to place it under administration.

At the time, Ntuli said he had resigned as the president of the SRC months earlier.

At Jozini municipality, the officials stored boxes of documents in a room, denying new officials who came into the municipality access to these records. Eventually a fire destroyed the room.

There is an ongoing investigation.

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