The Committee was supposed to briefed on the R4 billion underspending by the City of Cape and Post Audit Action Plan. However the situation went awry because the City of Cape Town notified the Committee on the morning of the meeting that they were not going to attend. Two delegates from the Auditor-General’s Office were however present. The Committee decided not to take that presentation as they wanted to hear both the Auditor-General’s presentation and the City of Cape Town’s presentation together so allow for more fruitful engagement.
The Committee expressed their dismay at the City of Cape Town’s absence from the meeting and said that they will use their legislative powers to summon them if they refused to appear before them. Members were concerned that this could become a trend as the City of Cape Town had done this already during the 4th and 5th Parliament terms; and said: ‘There should be public accountability in terms of the matter before this Committee’. Members felt that this situation was unacceptable and that the City was not taking it seriously; they declared that: ‘So when the Committee needs them it needs them’!
Comments from the Chairperson
The Chairperson said that they had invited the City of Cape Town and the Auditor General’s Office, but they had received a message from the City of Cape Town that they were not going to honour the invitation. This follows a process of engaging with the City. They were informed the morning of the meeting that the City is unable to attend and requested a rescheduled meeting. He said that he did not think that this was how they should work together, as different institutions needed to respect one another and communicate timeously. He added that it was important not to waste time and resources by inviting people to meetings that are not going to materialise.
The Chairperson went on to say that the matter before the Committee was the issue of R5.2 billion, comprising of R4 billion as operational expenditure and R1.2 billion of capital expenditure. They needed an explanation about this from the City of Cape Town. The Committee has invited all the municipalities where they identified problems. Last week they invited the North West municipality as well. He stated further that they must be proactive and not reactive, and that they should engage with different stakeholders. The Auditor General’s office was present, but the City of Cape was not. Therefore, he proposed that they should not take the presentation of the Auditor-General’s Office as it was more desirable to hear that presentation in the presence of the municipality.
The Chairperson felt the need to express the following:
- That the municipality was not doing the Committee a favour by attending, as they are obliged to appear before the Committee;
- If they do not attend then they must explain to the Committee why they were unable to come; and
- If they do not appear then the Committee will have to summon them to appear before the Committee.
He said that he was advised that this seems to be a pattern and a recurring situation with the City of Cape Town. They had done the same thing during the 4th and 5th terms of Parliament.
The report at their disposal must be explained fully and he suggested that they put the matter in abeyance. It was proper that they take the two presentations together when the City of Cape Town is also present, so that they can engage fruitfully.
Ms S Shaikh (ANC, Limpopo) said that she is quite disappointed that the municipality did not honour the invitation to appear before the Committee and hoped it did not become a trend, although the Chairperson had indicated that it was already a trend with the City of Cape Town. Even in their engagements with the City of Johannesburg it took a second attempt to get them before the Committee. Ms Shaikh said that this was totally unacceptable, as no government body is untouchable by the Committee and they expected accountability. If they had to invoke their legislative powers to summon the City of Cape Town then they should take that route.
The Chairperson said that they will look at their schedule - which is extremely tight - and find a way even if it is on a Friday, because these matters are important and must be dealt with.
Mr K Motsamai (EFF, Gauteng) said that the municipalities who are undermining them must be summoned to appear as they cannot wait only to find that they do not attend. They must do something very serious so that they can realise that this is a Committee of Parliament, not just some minor committee. ‘So when the Committee needs them it needs them’.
Mr A Gxoyiya (ANC, Northern Cape) said that the City apologised today and the Committee should give them another chance.
Mr E Mthethwa (ANC, KwaZulu Natal) said that he feels sorry for the wasteful expenditure and does not know who should pay for it.
The Chairperson said that it is important for them to respect the process of Parliament as they are not an exception and not different from the rest. ‘There should be public accountability in terms of the matter before this Committee’.
For the record, he introduced the two panel members who were present: Mr Ashley Olkers, Deputy Business Executive: Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) in the Western Cape, and Mr Adiel Bloew, Senior Manager, Auditor General of South Africa Cape Town.
The Chairperson said that he will let the Committee know how they were taking the process further.
The meeting was adjourned.
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