Does council have political will?

2015-09-03 06:00

AT the Ugu District Council meeting last week the speaker intimated that the council should no longer be regarded as dysfunctional.

There are still problems with the supply chain management policy implementation which results in unauthorised, irregular, and wasteful expenditure.

Employees demonstrate bizarre behaviour with a quarter of them taking leave every month, while over 50% of the entire staff are the beneficiaries of monthly overtime payments. A councillor and several officials are paid extortionate amounts in travelling expenses every month.

To place this in perspective the internal auditor, the audit committee, as well as the Auditor General are of one mind that the council’s inability to accurately bill its customers and obtain payment for its services is its cardinal sin, challenging the council’s ability to continue as a going concern.

Two bold and vitally important steps are being taken, or considered, in this regard. The problematic IT Department has been revitalised and reformulated in order to generate correct bills for sales of water and sanitation. The next step would be the introduction of a new standard procedure and policy for the eradication of illegal water connections.

The draft policy which provides, inter alia, for criminal charges to be laid against beneficiaries of illegal unmetered water, as well as criminal charges being laid against Ugu employees who make the illegal connections, was tabled as an addendum at council last week. It was not debated as the speaker felt the draft needed to be carefully studied by councillors before the next meeting of council. In the interim comments could be sent to the municipal manager.

The precise and well thought-out draft policy document, prepared by council’s own legal department, also provides for prompt disconnection when there is resistance to, and no compliance with, the enforcement by-laws of council regarding illegal connections.

It remains to be seen if council has the political will to implement this unpopular policy which, if combined with a revitalised billing system, would enable council to ensure its solvency, a mere eight months before the municipal elections scheduled for next year.

Dave Snashall

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