Mangaung Metro instructed to dissolve ill-advised Metro Police service and discipline all involved

Deputy President David Mabuza with Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela, David Mahlobo, Senzo Mchunu and Mpho Chakane during an oversight visit.
Deputy President David Mabuza with Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela, David Mahlobo, Senzo Mchunu and Mpho Chakane during an oversight visit.
PHOTO: Madli Grobbelaar
  • National Treasury has ordered that the process used to create the Mangaung Metro Police Service should be abandoned.
  • It says this is because the metro can barely handle its finances and deliver services.
  • Whoever was involved in the process should be disciplined, it said.

National Treasury has given an order for the Mangaung Metro Police Service to be dissolved and for disciplinary procedures to be instituted against "everyone involved in this process of constituting the metro police service, including members of the mayoral committee".

In a letter, Treasury director-general: intergovernmental relations, Malijeng Mgqaleni, wrote that the National Treasury reiterated it had been "consistent in its advice to the City that the Metro Police Service should not be a priority, given its precarious financial and service delivery performance", yet the metro established the unit without its approval.

The letter was written to, among others, City manager Sello More, Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela, Free State MEC for Finance Gadija Brown and newly appointed Free State Cogta MEC Mxolisi Dukwana.

The letter, which News24 has seen, read:

The consistent cautions to the City over the years to manage its expenditure and prioritise basic service delivery of water, sanitation and waste management, was largely ignored and contributed largely to the City then being placed under administration for financial performance challenges.

Mgqaleni also revealed that Deputy President David Mabuza, in his capacity as the leader of government business in Parliament, gave the instruction that "all activities associated with the Metro Police Service must be stopped with immediate effect".

"You are, as the acting accounting officer, directed to institute disciplinary procedures against everyone involved in this process, including members of the mayoral committee, in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act, 2003 (Act No. 56 of 2003). Secondly, no payments nor any additions to the organisational establishments must be allowed under any circumstances," read the letter.

He added that the letter served to again compel More, as the accounting officer of the metro, to supply National Treasury with all memorandums served at council, which formed the basis for the decision to establish the metro police.

READ | Magashule ally Mxolisi Siyonzana elected Mangaung mayor

"It is also critical that the said documents also include the decision-making process [and] how the councillors of the metros voted on this item (all decisions). This record will assist the National Treasury to have a clear picture of who is directly responsible for this decision and who is liable for the expenditure incurred by the the event the Auditor-General finds this expenditure to have been a fruitless and wasteful, that the said recovery process can be effected," the letter read further.

More was advised to take the necessary steps to advise the council to rescind this ill-advised decision as soon as possible, and to timeously advise the National Treasury of the position of the metro within the next 14 days.

The embattled Mangaung municipality, including Bloemfontein, was put under administration in 2019 after the national government raised concerns about its " fiscal capacity". The national Cogta department also found that the municipality was operating at a deficit and that it was facing severe financial risks.

Mgqaleni wrote that since the start of the "war room to oversee the recovery of the City, the messages were again consistent that the City should contain expenditure and focus on delivering the basic service that residents are pleading for, all set out in the Mandatory Financial Recovery Plan".

Mgqaleni continued:

The advice was always clear from the National Treasury, and I want to re-iterate it here again to you as the newly appointed acting City manager, that the establishment of the Mangaung Metro Police Service will exacerbate the current financial challenges and will undermine the purpose of the approved mandatory financial recovery plan.

"The City is failing to control its operating expenditure, poor revenue collection and failure in corporate governance. To date, even though the Section 139 intervention is in progress, the City has not demonstrated an improvement in the management of its operating budget."

Mgqaleni said the advice against the establishment of the Mangaung Metro Police Service was shared with the City when the Metro announced the creation of the chief of police position, and the subsequent appointment thereof and then, when this explicit disapproval was ignored, it was followed with the same advice in every formal annual budget benchmark assessment and the mid-year budget and performance assessments since the 2017 financial year.

News24's sister publication City Press reported in August that former acting boss of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), Israel Kgamanyane, who acted as the head of the police watchdog nationally and in the Free State, was appointed by the Mangaung council in November 2017 to formulate and head the then soon-to-be-established Mangaung Metro Police Service.

According to City Press, Kgamanyane assumed his duties in January 2018 and has allegedly been drawing a salary of more than R2 million a year for the job.

The launch of the Mangaung Metro Police Service was meant to take place in a glitzy ceremony at the Free State stadium in Bloemfontein in September, but was called off at the 11th hour, following mounting pressure from the Mangaung Service Delivery Forum (MSDF).

The Mangaung Metro has weighed in on the allegations and denied rumours from pressure groups that the friends and family members of those in power in the metro were the ones who were hired at the police department.

In a statement, More said: 

Earlier, as the City, we noted the misinformation that was making rounds about the recruitment of the MMPD's personnel. To date, Mangaung Metro has had traffic and law enforcement divisions, which fall under the Public Safety sub-directorate (Social Services).

"One of the conditions of the application approval is that the personnel and budget of the existing public safety sub-directorate must be moved to the MMPD, and there are necessary human resource processes that must be followed. We also indicated that trainees are entitled to wear their training uniform; those [who] are in the metro's college and [who are] training are entitled to apply but this will only happen in the next batch of absorption and not during the process of migration. This will only be in the external advertisement of posts to allow members of the community an opportunity to apply and compete," More continued.

The metro has also spoken against assertions that it could not afford the department, adding that it was already the subject of financial intervention when it received the thumbs up from former Police, Roads and Transport MEC Sam Mashinini in March 2020.

Mashinini has since been fired as the MEC, allegedly due to questionable decision-making.

Mangaung Metro Municipality spokesperson Qondile Khedama was not available for comment.

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