‘Ticking bomb gone off’

2018-05-30 06:02

A ticking time bomb that has gone off. This is how the DA in the Free State has described the in-depth report by Kimi Makwethu, auditor-general (AG), which reveals the collapse of Free State municipalities.

It paints a bleak future of the Free State municipalities and has indicated an urgent intervention to rescue all municipa­lities from the doldrums.

The ruling party, the ANC, has been governing all the Free State municipalities that are in the doldrums post-1994.

Reacting to the news that Free State municipalities were kaput, James Letuka, DA’s spokesperson for local government, blamed the collapse of the municipalities to the ANC’s irregular expenditure and inability to implement effective remedial programmes to render quality services.

“Irregular expenditure totalled R675 million, the net current liability of municipalities amount to R4 billion, while unauthorised expenditure totalled R2,9 billion and fruitless and wasteful expenditure totalled R324 million for 2016-’17,” Letuka said.

He said the DA has welcomed the announcement by the national minister of the Department of Cooperative Gover­nance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Dr. Zweli Mkhize, that the National Treasury (NT) will intervene in some Free State municipalities, including the Mangaung Metro Municipality.

In the Matjhabeng Municipality residents and businesses have reportedly not received accounts from this municipality for almost more than a year.

The municipality administers six towns – Welkom, Virginia, Odendaalsrus, Hennenman, Ventersburg and Allanridge.

“The interventions are long overdue, even the powers given to the AG to enforce recommendations in municipa­lities. It is possible to implement interventions only if the leaders are willing to learn.

“The AG also confirmed that DA-governed municipalities are performing the best on all indicators, evidenced in the consolidated report. The DA governs in the interests of all people, and we’ve managed to turn the rot of ANC gover­nance around, recently in Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay,” said Letuka.

At a media briefing held on Monday (28/05), the DA has committed to help turn around the dire state of the municipalities through the following:

strictly monitors financial management in municipalities through finance committees and the Municipal Public Accounts Committee; lodge complaints with the Human Rights Commission or the Public Protector; in cases of criminal activity such as fraud or theft, or unconstitutional actions such as failure to protect the environment or protect water sources, bring criminal charges against municipal managers with the SAPS; and where a state of collapse is threatening, request a provincial intervention by the MEC of Cogta in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution.

The Mangaung Metro has agreed to work with the NT in refining the financial recovery plan of the municipality.

Qondile Khedama, spokesperson of Mangaung, said the measures came after the officials of the Mangaung Metro had a fruitful two-day working session with the NT and Free State Cogta on 14 and 15 May.

This was the first step to develop a sustainable financial recovery plan for the city.

Khedama said the municipality has decided to implement full credit control and debt collection procedures to reco­ver outstanding debts from customers to meet its financial commitments.

“Starting from Thursday (24/05), all defaulting properties under the control of the Free State Department of Public Works will have their water and electricity supply disconnected. Section 35(b) of the Municipal Finance Management Act 56 of 2003, stipulates that national and provincial departments and public entities must promptly meet their financial commitments towards municipalities.”

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