Hawks investigating 311 cases involving municipalities

2018-11-20 10:23
Two men have been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a Sea Point hotel manager. (Tiro Ramatlhatse, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)

Two men have been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a Sea Point hotel manager. (Tiro Ramatlhatse, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)

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The Hawks are investigating 311 cases involving municipalities across the country, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) says.

Cogta spokesperson Musa Zondi said 98 of the cases were in court, 178 were under investigation, and 35 were either finalised or withdrawn.

And since the amendment of the Municipal Systems Act in 2011, 1 651 municipal employees have been dismissed for misconduct, including fraud, corruption, gross negligence and dishonesty. In that time, 130 officials resigned before disciplinary proceedings against them could be finalised, Zondi said.

News24 reported earlier that 24 municipalities were under administration. Of these, eight were in the North West alone and they were placed under administration in September.

Information from National Treasury, provided by Zondi, showed that 166 municipalities had "serious" financial problems and 122 had unfunded budgets.

"Some of the root causes for non-payment of third parties include poor cashflow management, low collection levels, unaffordable organisational structure and misuse of funds, poor audit outcomes, unfunded budget, poor decision making and inadequate internal control measures, high levels of fraud and corruption [ and the] use of service delivery grants for unintended purposes," said Zondi.

"The Municipal Recovery Plan was launched earlier this year to help us deal with the challenges of local government holistically. A number of perennial political, service delivery, financial management and governance challenges continue to remain an impediment to achieving a fully functional and developmental system of local government.

"Incorrect qualifications, inappropriate or bloated staff establishments, unacceptably higher vacancy rates and inordinately long delays in filling budgeted vacant posts continue to plague local government.

"The Municipal Recovery Plan support is based precisely on the principle of strengthening support to the municipalities to reduce the numbers of municipalities where constitutional interventions are imposed," he said.

'Epicentre'

He also said the department was focusing on 57 municipalities which account for 87% of all households living in informal settlements or backyard dwellings.

These constitute 50% of service delivery backlogs and are "at the epicentre" of service delivery protests.

The department has invested R57 billion in these municipalities to beef up infrastructure and expand new services.

Cogta minister Zweli Mkhize also said in a speech in June that the department screened 1 120 candidates for municipal jobs to see if they had been dismissed from municipalities previously, or if they were one of the 130 who resigned.

Managers who were "dishonourably discharged" will be blacklisted, Mkhize said.

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Read more on:    hawks  |  crime  |  local government  |  corruption
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