Termination of Intervention in Ngaka Modiri District: Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs, North West briefing; Consideration of minutes

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Meeting Summary

The Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs, North West, briefed the Committee on the proposed upliftment of the section 139 1(b) intervention in Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality. The Select Committee was briefed on the history of the section 139 1 (b) intervention, as far back as 2009. Some of the challenges and expectations facing the administrator, as well as some of the achievements of the intervention, were outlined. Due to time constraints, the Department was unable to finish the briefing.

Some of the questions and comments raised by Members included the apparent superficial solutions presented by Mr Ramagaga, as well as issues pertaining to funding, and the opinion of the Committee as to whether the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality was able to continue functioning until the election.

Meeting report

Mr Seth Ramagaga, Acting Deputy Director-General, Department of Social Development, North West Province, briefed the Committee on the proposed upliftment of section 139 (1) (b) of the constitution in the Ngaka Modiri Molema (NMM) District municipality.

The section 139 (b) notice was served on the NMM District Municipality in July 2009, and was scheduled to be in effect for six months. An administrator was appointed on 01 August 2009, and this administrator in turn appointed a project manager and secretary. The intervention was then extended to the end of July 2010.
The administrator was tasked with normalising the labour issues related to the district municipality, as well as the implementation of the Auditor General’s report on the Brazil soccer project, the provision of water and sanitation for all local municipalities under the district and to report on the validity and legitimacy of all recently awarded contracts. The administrator was also tasked with reporting on possible fraud relating to endowment policies, as well as to facilitate the appointment of a new municipal manager, and to resolve all issues pertaining to previous municipal managers.

Mr Ramagaga continued by outlining the achievements of the intervention, which included the normalisation of all labour issues. This included the utilisation of local labour forums as a link between labour and management, the development and approval of a new organogram inline with the strategic plan adopted in August 2009.

Other achievements of the intervention included disciplinary hearings pursued against the Chief Financial Officer who had subsequently resigned, as well as other senior personnel. Further investigations into the municipality had resulted in five officials being charged. The review of outdated policies was also ongoing.

Mr Ramagaga added that the appointment of a municipal manager had not yet been successful due to the period of appointment’s only stretching until the municipal elections. The appointment of a new municipal manager was therefore being left to the new administration to appoint. In the meantime, the current project manager had been appointed as the acting municipal manager. Two other cases were also still pending.

In relation to the Auditor General’s Report on the Brazil Soccer Project, Mr Ramagaga stated that the children involved in the project were successfully returned and integrated into normal life and the officials were successfully disciplined, except for one whose case was still pending. Outstanding matters involving creditors were also resolved.

Questions raised by the chairperson of the provincial public accounts committee were answered in a report submitted to the committee.

Under the section 139 intervention, 15 capital projects were successfully implemented, but Mr Ramagaga added that a loan application had been submitted to the Development Bank of South Africa, in order to expedite service delivery. He added that there were more projects planned for the 2010/2011 financial year, and that this loan would help bring these projects forward. General maintenance of sewerage works as well as the cleaning of certain areas was also seen to.

In terms of the fraud investigation, Mr Ramagaga stated that no wrongdoing was found to have taken place, but that the report regarding the legitimacy and validity of recently awarded contracts was ongoing. Cases were pending where anomalies have been discovered.

Mr Ramagaga stated that there were a number of challenges that face the district municipality; these included the challenges such as strikes, poor co-operation between Section 56 managers, as well as badly defined roles between managers and union affairs. He added that further challenges were faced in the finance and health departments, including being understaffed and poorly funded.

Due to time constraints, the Chairperson stopped Mr Ramagaga at this point in order for some of the Members to ask questions.

Mr T Beyleveldt (DA, Western Cape) stated that, having read through the presentation, he could see that there was clear evidence that the municipality was in trouble. He asked what the status was of the Auditor General’s report of 2009/2010, and if, in light of this, the municipality able to table a draft integrated development plan (IDP) and Budget for 2011. He added that the presentation showed superficial solutions to the challenges facing the municipality and that if the municipality was not in this position the whole issue would have to be revisited, and that the municipality would have to be dissolved before the election.

Mr A Matila (ANC, Gauteng) commented that when the Committee was present in the NMM district municipality, the municipal manger could not meet with the Committee but was subsequently arrested and suspended. He expressed concern that the suspended municipal managers were still drawing a salary from this municipality, but that the municipality was claiming to have no money. He added that the presentation had raised many issues, but that they should be discussed at a more convenient time.

Prince M Zulu (IFP, KwaZulu-Natal) suggested that a meeting be conducted between the municipality, the select committee and the MEC in order to get to the bottom of the matter.

The Chairperson stated that the committee needed to work on this matter, but that time did not permit a discussion at the moment; he stated that this point could be properly discussed the following week.

Consideration of minutes
The Chairperson initiated a discussion of general minutes. This included the application by the Free State for another date for its scheduled presentation to the Committee. The Committee accepted this.

The Committee was also asked to consider the extension applied for by the Thembisi municipality. The Chairperson asked the Committee to consider the best approach to this application. The Chairperson suggested that communication with the Member of the Executive Council (MEC), or a follow up with the municipality in question would be the best way forward.

Mr Matila agreed that a follow up would be necessary. He added that one of the municipalities in Limpopo was in trouble, and as a result had received a disclaimer of audit opinion.

The Chairperson responded that a close look at the municipalities in Limpopo was necessary, and that this should take the form of an oversight visit. He added that the identification of the best and worst municipality, followed by an oversight visit in each province should be conducted.

Mr D Bloem (COPE, Free State) and Mr Matila both agreed.

Mr Beyleveldt raised the point that the Committee needed to support municipalities before they collapsed, rather than treating the symptom of a collapsed municipality through oversight visits.

The Chairperson agreed.

The meeting was adjourned.

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