‘Msunduzi is captured’

2019-06-24 15:24
City Hallâ??s Clock tower keeps ticking. The Msunduzi municipality has managed to keep ahead of the problem the pigeons keep dropping. Photo. Jonathan Burton8BIM

City Hallâ??s Clock tower keeps ticking. The Msunduzi municipality has managed to keep ahead of the problem the pigeons keep dropping. Photo. Jonathan Burton8BIM (File)

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City administrator Sbusiso Sithole has said that Msunduzi has been “captured” and he has received death threats over his mission to get the City back on its feet.

He also told The Witness on Sunday that some councillors are intimately linked to companies which have been looting the City’s coffers.

Some councillors have criticised Sithole for not having anything to show for his efforts, but Sithole said his recovery plan had been finalised and would soon be presented to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), before it comes to council.

“It was important for me to do the assessment because I must be able to tell them what is wrong with the company [the municipality] before I tell them about my plan to turn things around.”

He said he had to interview all the stakeholders, including councillors, and gather documentation. His analysis included the financials, human resources and the City’s infrastructure.

While he would not give a full breakdown of his findings and recommendations, he said non-compliance with regulations was one of the biggest problems.

“Bringing a monthly financial report more than three months after its due date is a waste of everyone’s time and defeats the purpose of having that report,” he said.

He added that some of the council resolutions made in the past few years also needed to be rescinded as they were irregular.

Sithole’s observation was that Msunduzi was “to a certain extent captured”.

He said some of the councillors who pretended to be acting in the best interest of Msunduzi were intricately linked to some of the companies looting the municipality.

He said his task this time round is more difficult than when he was last brought in as an administrator in 2010, because on that occasion Cogta dissolved council and he was left completely in charge. This time he has had to brace himself for resistance from some politicians — but he was ready for them.

“This is a challenge because Msunduzi is worse than it was before — the politics are worse. You just have to look at the attacks that we are suffering at the moment.”

The Cogta ministerial representative said he and some senior managers were getting death threats but were “not going to take those lying down”. They are going to be reporting the threats to the police this week.

He added that there would be no holy cows and that some officials might end up facing disciplinary action for misconduct.

Sithole’s assessment of the municipality’s infrastructure included looking at the deficit that is causing regular power outages.

He said there was also a plan to clean filth and grime, and that grass cutting had already started. He said Msunduzi was not collecting revenue as it should but that was due to several challenges.

Sithole has been working alone but expected his team from Cogta to arrive next week. He said he would initially be getting three people with expertise in different fields, including finance, but more could be sent by Cogta if the need arises.

“This is the other difference from 2010 because then I had all the necessary resources from the word go but on Friday the head of department assured me that from now on I would have all the resources I need.”

Last week some councillors expressed frustration at the “slow pace” of Msunduzi’s recovery, saying the City has further disintegrated since its administration was announced in April.

During Friday’s financial services portfolio committee meeting, DA councillor Ross Strachan said it was disturbing that even though the municipality was under administration, reports were still coming to committees late and things were not implemented timeously.

“When we had the administration the last time there was immediate action. You saw things happening but right now it seems like it’s a talk shop … It’s not the same as before, I don’t even feel like we are under administration and that’s a scary thing,” he said.

The ANC’s Mehmod Oumar said the business community was not happy with the quality of services from Msunduzi. He blamed the lack of implementation of council resolutions and plans.

Speaking to The Witness in the sidelines of the meeting, Oumar said Msunduzi was under siege and things had got worse since Cogta announced its intervention.


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