Municipal Finance Management Bill: deliberations on chapter 15

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Finance Standing Committee

22 January 2003
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Meeting report

FINANCE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE WORKING GROUP
23 January 2003
MUNICIPAL FINANCE MANAGEMENT BILL: DELIBERATIONS ON CHAPTER 15


Chairperson: Ms Hogan (ANC)

Relevant Documents:
Municipal Finance Management Bill: Draft of 10 January
Schedule: Repeal and Amendment of Legislation

SUMMARY

The committee discussed chapter 15 on financial misconduct and criminal proceedings for misconduct. At the end of the meeting the need for expert legal advice became evident.

MINUTES
The chair reminded the committee that they had to make sure that the right person was held responsible in the legislation for their deeds. She added that she was worried that some of these clauses might be too strict and severe. She also added that they had to check what the mayor was accountable for and whether the Systems Act did not already cover that.

Ms Taljaard (DP) expressed her concern on the lack of a clear definition for financial misconduct.

Clause 174
The chair suggested going through all the provisions listed in clause 174 (1) (a) to verify that they do constitute financial misconduct by the mayor and justify disciplinary proceedings. After much debate it was decided that clauses 16 (2), 48, 49, 50 and 52 be excluded as the committee felt that there was not sufficient ground for these clauses to be seen as financial misconduct by the mayor. They decided to retain clauses 21 (1), 25 (3), 27 (1) or (3) and 51 as acts of financial misconduct.

Clause 175
The chair proposed following the same process to verify financial misconduct by municipal officials in clause 175 (1) (a). After much debate it was decided that clauses and 10 (1) (a)(b), 56, 57 (1) or (2), 121 (1) or (2) be excluded as the committee felt that these were not sufficient ground to be seen as financial misconduct by municipal officials. They decided to retain clauses 9 (1), 10 (1) (c), 11 (2) or (4), 22, 30 (4) or (6), 43 (2) (b), 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63 (2), 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 74, 84, 105 (2) as acts of financial misconduct. The committee also decided to add 126 (1) and to reserve judgement on 123 (1), 124 (1), 129, 130 (1), 131 (2) or (3), 134 (2), and 135 (1) (a) until the chapters 10 and 11 have been sorted out. The same applies for clause 176.

Clause 179
The chair made it clear that the maximum sentence for any of these criminal proceedings is 5 years.

After some discussion on this issue the chair expressed her concern that the committee is not benefiting from this discussion. She said that there were broader philosophical issues, which had not yet been put before the committee. She added that this led to more problems with the Bill. She emphasised however that the problems were only with clarity on which offences should lead to criminal proceedings and not financial misconduct.

The chair added that she would like some expertise from outside, preferably a lawyer in the commercial sphere. She stressed the need for that kind of input. She asked members to search for somebody suitable.

Ms Taljaard proposed using the parliamentary researchers to save the National Treasury some work, but the chair expressed her doubts on their competency.

The chair reconvened the meeting until they had time to think through these issues so that the committee had a better understanding of the direction to take.

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