Tshwane’s newly appointed mayor will have to answer to Local Government Minister Sicelo Shiceka for the R2.3 million golden handshake given to suspended city manager Kiba Kekana.
“I have read about this and I have written a letter to the mayor (Kgosientsho Ramokgopa) and the council leadership to come and explain what happened,” Shiceka told journalists in Pretoria.
Nothing conclusive emerged in a report following a year-long probe into Kekana’s conduct, which was tabled at a council meeting last week. Kekana was suspended last year after allegations of maladministration and financial mismanagement were levelled against him.
Although Shiceka said he would not express an opinion about the settlement, he made it clear that in principle it was “unacceptable” to give municipal officials golden handshakes – particularly if they were administrators with a case to answer.
“There should be no golden handshake in principle and that person can’t be allowed to resign,” he said.
He however highlighted that most things would come out in the open as an investigation lead by Special Investigating Unit (SIU) was under way in that municipality, as well as in Ekurhuleni.
Some 38 municipalities around the country were being investigated by SIU for fraud and corruption, he said.
A large number of officials had already been arrested and some had been dismissed – including municipal managers.
North West topped the list, with all of its 25 municipalities being investigated, followed by six in Eastern Cape, five in Mpumalanga and two in Gauteng.
Other municipalities, such as KwaZulu-Natal’s Msunduzi municipality, had been taken over and put under provincial government control in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution.
Shiceka said corrupt municipal officials betrayed the trust placed in them.
“We are clearing the system. There is no forest to hide,” he said.
He also warned “potential corrupters and corruptees” that “systems” were being put in place to detect their shenanigans. He blamed corruption on a lack of proper systems to track wrongdoing.
Their goal was to see local government functioning well by 2014, instead of being “underestimated” as it currently was.
From Thursday, the ruling party would hold a two-day meeting to reflect on provincial and local government and find ways of making it more efficient. Shiceka said issues such as amalgamating municipalities and amending laws would also be looked at.
There was a need for new councillors, who Shiceka said would be trained in time for next year’s local government elections. He wanted at least 40% representation of new councillors in municipalities.
“We will train them extensively so they know what to do. We want to take local government where it belongs and not where it is now. We want to ensure government by people that have the interest of people at heart.”