Ratepayers want kwaDukuza probe

2014-02-06 00:00

BALLITO ratepayers are to take the kwaDukuza Municipality to the Public Protector in an attempt to have the council administration overhauled and investigated.

This will be the second time in less than a year that the ratepayers attempt to haul the council before the chapter nine oversight body and they now believe with the “damning” findings, including the failure to spend R233 million, in a recently released 2012/13 Auditor-General report, this will give them sufficient ammunition to demand Thuli Madonsela investigates the council.

The Dolphin Coast Residents at Ratepayers Association — led by Louis Luyt Jr. — wants the municipal manager Nhlanhla Mdakane axed and the council speaker Thulani Khuluse removed from office. They claim they are an impediment to the future development of the council, and have failed to act in a transparent manner as well as failed to communicate adequately with residents.

But the council’s mayor Ricardo Mthembu has defended his leadership and stated that the council has received seven unqualified audits in as many years and that the findings made by the Auditor-General are dated and have to a large extent been resolved.

“This is simply bad management. I do not believe the leadership is capable of running the council and enforcing the oversight role he is expected to execute. If this were a private company they would be axed,” said Luyt.

He accused the council of not “taking the AG’s report seriously”, and that failures in the supply chain management system have led to widespread irregular expenditure affecting the poor. He said an affidavit is being drafted for submission to the Public Protector.

The previous report submitted by the association to the Public Protector, totalling 119 pages, was submitted on June 2013. The report stated “maladministration, abuse and unjustifiable use of power, unfair conduct and undue delays” as key to their submission, making special reference to deficiencies in public transport, road maintenance and property development.

The AG document, which was presented to the kwaDukuza council on Thursday last week, and which The Witness is in possession of, states the council “has materially underspent the budget on capital expenditure to the amount of R233,66 million. This has resulted in the municipality not achieving all of its planned service delivery targets for the year”.

The report, which was handed to council last Thursday, found it couldn’t adequately measure the municipality’s performance with 43% of the indicators used to do so not being verifiable.

“This was due to the lack of key controls in the relevant systems of collection, collation, verification and storage”, said the report.

The document went on to say that without these key indicators in place, the AG could not measure accurately whether the council had met its basic service delivery mandate.

It further found that the council failed to adhere to key legislation when drafting its integrated development plan and that they had transferred an undisclosed amount of grant funding to the iLembe District Municipality without informing the National Treasury. Further, the council had not investigated whether any employee is accountable for incidents of fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

But Mthembu defended his leadership, saying every measure has or is being put in place to keep the council functioning at “the highest level”.

“We received an unqualified audit from the AG. The R233 million has since been spent on the likes of upgrading or building sports fields and roads. We have since 2012/13 employed the right people. Before that we did not have a municipal manager and a number of senior positions were vacant. We are a transparent municipality,” said Mthembu.

Mthembu said every effort is being made to obtain what is deemed a clean audit — an audit without any negative comments from the council — in the 2013/14 financial year.

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