Documents handed out:
Letter from State Security Agency: Candidates’ Employment Suitability Checks (for position of Municipal Manager: Mogalakwena) (for Committee members only – confidential)
Terms of Reference for the Intervention (for Committee members only – confidential)
Senior officials from the Mogalakwena Local Municipality appeared before the Portfolio Committee to brief it on the factors that had caused the municipality to be placed under administration, and had to contend with a wide range of questions and allegations put to them by Members. The allegations included:
- Misconduct by a senior municipal official in relation to the alleged illegal appointment of service providers;
- Intentionally not implementing a Bargaining Council award compelling the municipality to absorb certain workers;
- Illegal recruitment that resulted in senior officials’ family members being employed by the municipality;
- The Municipal Manager not disclosing her past criminal conviction, and therefore misleading the panel when she sought employment with the municipality.
- There were affidavits from service providers claiming they had done work and had not been paid.
Members wanted to know if conflict of interest declarations had been completed by all officials. They also wanted to know if any official had done business with the municipality. Had there been interference by the Mayor when it came to certain human resources processes involving one of the municipality’s officials? They wanted to know about the legality of the recruitment of workers who were not part of the organisational structure.
The intervention team shared some findings from its rapid assessment report on the municipality, indicating the focus areas that would inform the intervention, and provided an overview of the plans they had developed to address critical areas of concern. They commented that the municipal officials had been welcoming and supportive of the process.
Members wanted to know the specific plans for capacitating the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC); what the role of the senior officials would be, seeing that the Administrator would effectively be in charge; and about a dubious transaction that had occurred while the team was at the municipality.
Deliberations on Mogalakwena Local Municipality
The Chairperson reminded those present that the meeting was a continuation of a meeting that was held on 6 December 2019. The Committee would use this sitting to conclude the deliberations which were previously interrupted by load-shedding. The latest development was that the provincial government of Limpopo had intervened, and the intervention team was present to brief the Committee on the work they would be doing. She opened the floor for Members to put questions to the Mogalakwena delegation regarding the status of the municipality.
Mr Brink asked if all the senior managers had completed their conflict of interest declarations for both 2017/18 and 2018/2019, and whether these were on record with the municipality.
Ms Beverly Gunqisa, Municipal Manager: Mogalakwena Local Municipality, said that she would be able to answer only part of the question, because she had joined the municipality only in the 2018/19 financial year. The declarations had been completed and submitted to the Municipal Manager’s office, but this was not the case with the Deputy Manager of Corporate Services and officials lower in the organisational structure.
The Chairperson wanted confirmation from Ms Gunqisa that she, as the Municipal Manager, was taking responsibility only for the 2018/19 financial year. She also wanted to know who the Acting Municipal Manager for the 2017/18 financial year was.
Ms Gunqisa confirmed that Mr Maluleke was the Acting Municipal Manager, and he had sent through his apologies. They would follow up with the Committee regarding the 2017/18 declarations.
The Chairperson asked the Mayor, the Speaker, as well as the Chief Whip, why Mr Maluleke was not present before the committee.
Ms Andrina Matsemela, Mayor: Mogalakwena Local Municipality, responded that Mr Maluleke’s health was not in a good condition.
The Chairperson asked the Speaker if he was aware that it was a legal requirement for the Speaker to ensure that officials signed the declarations. The Speaker should know who had signed and who had not.
Mr Samuel Mathebula, Speaker: Mogalakwena Municipality, said he was aware of the responsibility to ensure the declarations were signed, but he was not aware of an official doing business with the municipality. He became aware this matter only by reading the Auditor-General’s (AG’s) report.
Mr Brink wanted to know if the Municipal Manager was aware of anyone who was doing business with the municipality, declared or not.
Ms Gunqisa said there was information coming through indicating that there might be a conflict of interest. There had been a forensic investigation that uncovered the fact that there were officials doing business with the Municipality. The Technical Manager had resigned before disciplinary processes were concluded.
Mr Brink asked if the Municipal Manager was aware of a conflict of interest by anyone represented or in the Committee room.
Ms Gunqisa said she had not received any information related to anyone in the Committee room.
The Chairperson wanted to know how much the forensic investigation had cost. Did the municipality implement the recommendations of the investigation? Did the municipality ever pursue the official criminally? How much was involved in the conflict of interest?
Ms Gunqisa said the forensic investigation cost around R2 million. The manager who was implicated had resigned before the report could be brought before Council. She had informed her principal and awaited a directive in terms of implementing the recommendations of the forensic investigation.
The Chairperson wanted to make sure that more than R2 million had been spent to commission a forensic investigation, only to throw the report under the carpet when the official resigned.
Ms Gunqisa said the report was not thrown under the carpet, because they had sought a directive on what further steps to take, as the report never went to Council.
The Chairperson wanted to know whose responsibility it was to ensure that the report went through to Council.
Ms Gunqisa said it was her responsibility to take the report to Council, but she was unable to do this due to a series of disruptions to Council meetings. and the report was never tabled.
The Chairperson wanted to know if the Council was still being disrupted. If it was not, why had the report not been sent?
Ms Gunqisa said the Council was not being disrupted. There was a backlog at the Council.
The Chairperson requested that the Municipal Manager share the report with the Committee. She also wanted an overview of the report.
Ms Gunqisa said the report focused on Technical Services. Some of the recommendations and findings confirmed that there was a level of conflict of interest. There were areas of projects where costs were inflated, and where they exceeded the validity period without requesting an extension from Council, as per the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). There had been non-compliance with regard to patterns of payment by Technical Services.
The Chairperson wanted to know how much was involved. What was the amount that had beenspent irregularly?
Ms Gunqisa said she did not have the specific amounts, but they were significant.
Mr Brink said the Municipal Manager had said she was not aware of any conflict of interest by anyone in the committee room. However, she was possession of a memorandum sent to Council by Mr Gerhard Meyer, Acting Manager: Community Services, Mogalakwena Local Municipality, who in turn was in possession of an affidavit which alleged that Mr Jabu Mashamaite acted as a middle man and instructed him to do work as a sub-contractor for a company called KTS. Mr Mashamaite allegedly paid him sums of money and instructed him about his duties. Mr Brink wanted to know how the Municipal Manager could reconcile this with what she had said earlier.
Ms Gunqisa said she might have misunderstood the context of the question, as she had been more focused on the financial aspect of the conflict of interest, but she was aware of what the Member was implying. She was aware of a string of affidavits from people claiming they were verbally given work by Mr Mashamaite, in his capacity as Acting Manager of Community Service, but they were now not getting paid. She said some of the work done had been prior to her taking office. Some of the work had been verified, while other work had not been verified.
Mr Brink said that as Accounting Officer, it was her responsibility to investigate all misconduct and other breaches. He asked what she did when she received the affidavits. Had she informed the Council?
Ms Gunqisa said a report had been prepared for Council. This report was taken to Council by herself and the Chief Financial Officer. She had charged Mr Mashamaite, but there had been a disruption.
The Chairperson wanted to know what the disruption was.
Ms Gunqisa replied that they had had an in camera discussion at the previous meeting regarding this particular matter.
The Chairperson said that Mr Brink had not been present at that meeting. She asked the Municipal Manager to please state what the disruption was.
Ms Gunqisa said she had been set aside, and she had gone on leave.
The acting Municipal Manager had uplifted Mr Mashamaite’s suspension while she was still on leave.
The Chairperson asked if the Municipal Manager believed she had a reasonable prospect of success when she charged Mr Mashamaite.
Ms Gunqisa said she believed there was a case because of the affidavits, as well as other information.
The Chairperson wanted to know what the current status of Mr Mashamaite’s case was.
Ms Gunqisa said that by the time she returned to work, the matter had been concluded. Mr Mashamaite had been cleared of any wrongdoing, and was back at work.
Mr Brink wanted to know if the Municipal Manager believed she had been set aside in order to protect Mr Mashamaite.
Ms Gunqisa said she believed there had been a level of interference when it came to proceeding with the disciplinary process.
Mr Brink asked what the charges against the Municipal Manager were, and what the outcome was.
Ms Gunqisa said there had been no suspension. A request had been made to uplift Mr Mashamaite’s suspension. She had been uncomfortable with this request. She had requested to go on study leave because the request seemed urgent, and she would not be able to handle it.
Mr Brink asked who had put pressure on her to uplift Mr Mashamaite’s suspension.
Ms Gunqisa said there had been no pressure. There had been a discussion between herself and the Mayor during which it was agreed that she should rather go on leave and let the process unfold.
Mr Brink wanted to know if she thought it was proper for the Mayor to have discussions with the Accounting Officer regarding the lifting of Mr Mashamaite’s suspension, as well as when the Municipal Manager should take leave. Was this not a breach of the code of conduct?
Ms Gunqisa said because the Accounting Officer reported to Council as well as the Mayor, and also held bilateral discussions with the Mayor; she did not find it to be a contravention or any kind of interference. However, the way the discussion unfolded, it sought to force the Accounting Officer to do something that was not legal, and she had not been able to agree to that.
Mr Brink said the Municipal Manager’s response prompted very serious questions for the Mayor to answer.
The Chairperson said the Committee would get an opportunity to ask the Mayor questions.
Mr G Mpanza (ANC) wanted to know if the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) had been appointed.
Ms M Tlou (ANC) wanted to know about the issues raised in the AG’s report.
The Chairperson requested that that question be reserved until later in the meeting.
Mr Brink quoted from the Municipal Systems Act (sections 67 and 119), and asked the Mayor if she was not guilty of trying to influence the Municipal Manager, as per the Act.
Ms Matsemela said there had been no interference. The Municipal Manager had informed her of her decision to take study leave during one of their bilateral discussions.
Mr Brink asked if the Mayor was denying discussing Mr Mashamaite’s suspension with the Municipal Manager, shortly before she went on study leave.
Ms Matsemela said that would have been interference. They had only discussed Mr Mashamaite’s suspension during their bilateral discussion.
Mr Brink asked the Mayor if she was aware that the Municipal Manager felt like she was being told how to carry out her duties?
Ms Matsemala said she felt like she had already answered the question -- there had been no interference with the Municipal Manager’s duties.
Mr Brink said the Committee was obliged to report the matter to the South African Police Service (SAPS), because they had just uncovered a potential offence. It would be problematic if the provincial government of Limpopo had not picked this up already. The Minister would be justifiably upset.
The Chairperson confirmed with both the Mayor as well as the Municipal Manager that they had in fact discussed Mr Mashamaite’s suspension during their bilateral discussion.
The Mayor and the Municipal Manager maintained their earlier responses, respectively.
Mr Jabu Mashamaite, Deputy Manager: Corporate Services, wanted to point out contradictions in the Municipal Manager’s approach, but the Chairperson requested that he await his turn to speak.
Mr Brink asked if Mr Mashamaite had had any contact with a service provider, or sub-contractor of a service provider, at the Community Services department.
Mr Mashamaite replied that he was being asked leading questions. He wanted clarity on whether this was an entirely new meeting, or really a continuation of the previous meeting, because the question asked by Mr Brink had already been answered. He said Mr Brink was misinformed.
The Chairperson called Mr Mashamaite to order, and asked him to just answer the question.
Mr Mashamaite said he had not had any dealings with any service provider, nor any knowledge of any dealings with service providers while he was at the helm of Community Services. He said he had no knowledge of any of the claims that were contained in the affidavits. He could not understand how the municipality could make payments to service providers on the basis of affidavits.
He had written to the Municipal Manager denying the allegations against him, but she had charged him anyway. He said there was a conspiracy to oust him. The Chairperson and Members of the Committee were asking questions that were leading the Municipal Manager to change her statement.
The Chairperson asked Mr Mashamaite not to dictate to the Committee how to ask questions.
Mr Mashamaite said there needed to be more objectivity.
The Chairperson wanted to know who was not being objective. He said this was an opportunity for Mr Mashamaite to clear his name.
Mr Mashamaite said he knew nothing about what was contained in the affidavits. He had had no dealings with the claimants. He had not signed any documents related to the claims. The Municipal Manager was trying to get rid of him because he had uncovered that she had criminal record and had requested that she come clean about it. He produced a letter from the State Security Agency which showed that the Municipal Manager had a criminal record. He added that the Municipal Manager had asked for compromising information about the Mayor and other officials in order to have ‘aces’ up her sleeve, just in case she needed them.
He claimed that the Municipal Manager was working with the Chairperson of the Committee.
The Chairperson asked the Municipal Manager if she indeed claimed a relationship existed between the Municipal Manager and herself.
Ms Gunqisa said she did not have a relationship with the Chairperson, other than meeting her in the Committee Room.
The Chairperson also confirmed, for the record, that there was no relationship.
Mr Mashamaite said the Municipal Manager’s goal was to get rid of him. She had even told him how the Parliamentary process would unfold.
The Chairperson said the Committee had become aware of the details of the municipality’s issues only after he had been charged, and the Municipal Manager had not even been there. She informed him the Committee’s meeting had been prompted by his appearance at the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA). She urged him to stop making unsubstantiated claims.
Mr Mashamaite said there was a process unfolding that was parallel to the Parliamentary process. He claimed the Municipal Manager had people she was dealing with. She had informed him there was a plan to take the matter to Parliament, and it would be in the Chairperson’s Committee.
The Chairperson re-iterated that the matter was important because the Committee had made a commitment to SCOPA, and because of any alleged relationship between the Municipal Manager and the Chairperson.
Mr Brink asked when Mr Mashamaite had become aware of the Municipal Manager’s criminal record. He wanted to know what he had done once he found out. He also wanted to know about the alleged nepotistic appointments at the municipality.
Mr Mashamaite said the Municipal Manager had not declared her criminal record. He had become aware of it when he saw the letter from the State Security Agency, which had a date on it. He commented that when interviews were being conducted for general workers, there was no cross-checking to confirm if any of the candidates were related to officials within the municipality.
Mr Brink asked if Mr Mashamaite had any evidence that he had disclosed the Municipal Manager’s criminal record.
The Chairperson said the letter confirming the Municipal Manager’s criminal record ought to have formed part of the parcel that was sent to Council prior to her appointment. She asked if the Speaker had received the letter.
The Chairperson also pointed out that the presence of a criminal record did not mean the Municipal Manager could not charge Mr Mashamaite.
Mr Mathebula said that all the documents that they received had qualified Council to make the decision to appoint the Municipal Manager.
The Chairperson asked when the Municipal Manager had been appointed.
Ms Gunqisa said she was appointed around April 2019.
The Chairperson said the letter was sent prior to the Municipal Manager’s appointment. She wanted to know who had withheld the letter.
Mr Mashamaite said the letter was a Council agenda document on the day of the appointment.
Mr Brink (DA) wanted confirmation from Mr Mashamaite’s superior, Ms Mavis Matlala, Manager, Corporate Services: Mogalakwena Local Municipality, that the document was indeed part of the pack that had been brought before Council.
Ms Matlala confirmed that the document was part of the pack that went before Council.
Mr Brink wanted to know if Council had contravened the law when they ignored the unsuitability of the Municipal Manager to be appointed.
Ms Matlala said there was another document in the pack which was from the South African Police Service. This document cleared the Municipal Manager of the conviction.
The Chairperson requested a copy of the Executive Committee recommendation to Council, as well as the exact date of the appointment.
Ms Matlala said this would be made available to the Committee
The Chairperson requested comment from the Speaker.
Mr Mathebula reiterated that the documents they had at the time qualified them to make the decision to appoint.
Mr Mike Rapatsa, Chief Whip: Mogalakwena Local Municipality, said he was surprised by Ms Matlala’s assertion that the document had been made available to Council. She was misleading the Committee. The municipality would need to take a decision about her, because Council never saw the document.
The Chairperson asked the Mayor about the agenda for the day the Municipal Manager was appointed.
Ms Matsemela said the letter was not was not part of the agenda. There was certain information on the document as it appeared today that was not present at the time of the appointment.
The Chairperson shared her concern that the Mayor had not received the full document. She wanted to know if the Mayor was telling the Committee that the Council had taken the wrong decision.
Ms Matsemela said they had received a different version of the letter.
The Chairperson said the Mayor’s answer meant the Council did not receive the same document that Mr Mashamaite had produced.
Ms Matsemela said that even though they were at Parliament to account, they would also like to request assistance from the Committee on how to navigate the issue affecting the municipality.
The Chairperson wondered what the role of the senior officials would be, seeing that there was now an intervention team.
Mr Mashamaite said important issues affecting the municipality were not being discussed because time was being spent discussing the current issue.
He said that the Municipal Manager had not been cleared of her conviction, and had asked her to come clean about this. That was when the issue had arisen. He added that people should not feel intimidated because they were scared that action would be taken against them at the municipality.
The Chairperson asked Mr Mashamaite to remain calm, and just answer the questions.
Mr Brink pointed out that the meeting was not meant to target Mogalakwena Municipality, but to see how the Committee could assist municipalities that appeared to be dysfunctional. He asked the Municipal Manager if she had a political motive against the Mayor.
Ms Gunqisa said she was not politically active at all, and had never met the Mayor prior to her appointment. She had never had a discussion with Mr Mashamaite about information on other officials. She said she was not a criminal. She had not paid millions and millions to service providers. The service providers had gone to police stations to verify the work they had done -- work provided to them by Mr Mashamaite. The current Acting Manager of Community Services had also said some work had been done, but the service providers had not been paid. Only two service providers had been paid – one for R350 000 and another for R1 million. These payments had been made because of the service providers’ willingness to come forward and testify, and also to verify work that had been done as per the verbal agreement with Mr Mashamaite. She was shocked to find that Mr Mashamaite, a subordinate, would behave the way he had in front of the Committee.
The Chairperson wanted to know if the Municipal Manager had been subjected to a permanent security clearance by the State Security Agency. Did Mr Mashamaite and Ms Matlala write to the Municipal Manager to inform her that she had to be subjected to a permanent security clearance, as required by Corporate Services?
Ms Gunqisa said the clearance that she had was from SAPS.
Mr Mashamaite said that there might have been an oversight on the side of Corporate Services.
The Chairperson shared a memo from the Acting Manager of Community Services, which stated that a Mr Molefe done work for the municipality in the form of refuse collection and litter collection. He had been paid R40 000 on two occasions. The Acting Manager’s memo said Mr Molefe had received the full R350 000 only once he had got into his role as acting manager. The memo said that Mr Molefe should claim any missing payments from the main contractor, KTS.
The Chairperson also read an affidavit from the affected service provider. The sub-contractor said he had had contact only with Mr Mashamaite, and was surprised to hear that he had been subcontracted to KTS, which he had no knowledge of. The Chairperson asked Mr Mashamaite if any service providers had been paid in cash.
Mr Mashamaite denied having any dealings with Mr Molefe. He was not aware of any sections of the municipality that had been sub-contracted. Those who had made payments on the basis of affidavits must explain why this was done.
Mr Brink said that when he had asked Mr Mashamaite earlier about knowing any service providers, he had given a blanket denial. Mr Mashamaite had also failed to mention he had been a manager in the Community Services department.
Mr Mashamaite said Mr Brink was being overtaken by events.
The Chairperson reminded Mr Mashamaite that he was not allowed to directly address Members of the Committee, and would have to speak through the Chairperson.
Mr Mashamaite apologised and withdrew his comment.
Mr Brink asked Mr Mashamaite if he knew KTS.
The Chairperson wanted to know if Mr Mashamaite had any dealings with them.
Mr Mashamaite said he knew KTS the same way he knew other service providers at the municipality.
Mr Brink said the information about managing the Community Services department would have been helpful at the outset. It was worth noting the Mr Meyer had been aware of the work done and the payments made, but Mr Mashamaite had not.
Mr Mashamaite said that an affidavit was not the basis of payment. It would be better if a service provider went to court, rather than paying based on affidavits. Those who paid Mr Molefe must deal with him.
Mr Brink said that this showed that one should look at the South African Local Government Association’s (SALGA’s) recommendation that political officials should not be a part of municipal administration.
Mr Mashamaite said Mr Meyer was a bitter man.
The Chairperson continued reading from the memo, which alleged that Mr Mashamaite was the mastermind behind the illegal appointments of service providers. It alleged that appointments were made without advertisements or interviews.
Mr Mashamaite requested a break before providing details for the Committee.
The Chairperson said he had a list of people employed by the municipality who were related and connected with officials in the municipality.
Mr Mashamaite said the recruitment drive had been the most beautiful thing that ever happened at the municipality. The recruitment was a result of audit queries related overtime pay by the municipality. There had also been a problem of outsourcing. They had embarked on the recruitment drive to curb outsourcing and save on overtime payments. The organisational structure had had to be re-designed.
He said the proposed structure did not make it to Council. The proposed shift system would have saved the municipality millions on an annual basis. As for the people who were recruited, all documents related to interviews and appointment of general workers had been presented. There had been no advertisements because they had opted to appoint individuals who had already made the shortlist. He also mentioned the Bargaining Council award, and said it allowed the absorption of employees bit by bit. He said the process was fair and square. He was not aware that some of those employed were related to officials in the municipality. The only people recruited outside of the organogram were those appointed in terms of the Bargaining Council award.
Ms Matlala said Mr Mashamaite had covered what she wanted to say, and that was appropriate because she had not been there at the time.
Mr Charles Malema, Chief Financial Officer (CFO): Mogalakwena Local Municipality, said his office was not aware of the recruitment drive. The recruitment had added R40 million to the annual wage bill.
The Chairperson wanted to know how the CFO was going to navigate the issue.
Mr Malema said the additional burden of R40 million would affect the municipality really badly.
The Chairperson sought the Municipal Manager’s advice on the issue at hand.
Ms Gunqisa said the situation as it stood was not sustainable at all. The increase in personnel had put a lot of financial strain on the municipality. She said there had even been an undertaking to remove operations and maintenance as a service, in order to stabilise the municipality.
Mr Brink sought clarity on the Bargaining Council award compelling the municipality to absorb employees. He requested a copy of the award.
Mr Mashamaite said a copy would be made available to the Committee.
The Chairperson requested that the document be made available by the following Tuesday, 3 March.
Mr Mashamaite agreed to submit the document by that date.
Mr Brink asked the Municipal Manager if she had been aware of the award of the Bargaining Council. He wanted to know about the additional people that had been appointed. Had the municipality considered appealing the award?
Ms Gunqisa said she was aware of the award. The matter had already been to the Labour Court. The real issue was that the award had not been properly implemented.
Mr Brink wanted to know if the award had been appealed or not. He also wanted to know why more people had been appointed than the amount that was awarded.
Ms Gunqisa said there were two separate issues. From October 2018 to March 2019, there had been a series of appointments of general workers and other officials. Some appointments were legal and some were not. The Bargaining Council award had not been implemented. She did not trust Mr Mashamaite’s account, as it was related to the appointment of general workers and the implementation of the award. She said there was still outsourcing at the municipality.
Mr Brink said it appeared that Mr Mashamaite had gone on his own frolic and exercised administrative authority that he did not have. He asked Mr Mashamaite if he was the political boss.
Mr Mashamaite said he was being quoted out of context. Mr Brink had wrong information. He was surprised there was still outsourcing at the municipality. Management needed to pull up its socks and implement full in-sourcing in order to save the municipality money.
He said if it was indeed the case that R40 million was being spent on an annual basis, then the municipality stood to save close to R360 million on outsourcing costs related to operations and maintenance. The issue of overtime would also be resolved and no longer represent an audit query going forward.
The Chairperson requested the exact numbers related to the recruitment drive.
Ms Matlala confirmed that as at 31 October 2018, 317 people had been appointed, of which 246 were general workers, and 71 were appointed in other roles. The Bargaining Council award compelled the municipality to employ 130 workers, 42 of which were actually absorbed. Nine people were over age, and would be referred to Social Development.
Mr Brink said the number presented Mr Mashamaite with some trouble. How were the rest of the employees accounted for?
Ms Matlala said Mogalakwena Municipality had some positions that were frozen, meaning there was no budget. These had been unfrozen.
The Chairperson wanted to know how the positions had been unfrozen, and whether there was a budget for these posts.
Ms Matlala said the budget had been allocated afterwards.
Mr Brink wanted to know if all the proper recruitment processes had been followed.
Ms Matlala said she had not been present when the recruitment was ongoing.
The Chairperson asked what the Corporate Services manager had done upon finding out about the issues. It was not enough to say she had not been there.
Ms Matlala said interviews had been done, and the rest of the appointments were made from those who were shortlisted.
Mr Brink asked if the Municipal Manager had anything to add.
Ms Gunqisa said the process, as it unfolded at the time, did not seem to comply with the policies.
Mr Mashamaite said the only people hired outside of the organogram were those absorbed as a result of the Bargaining Council award. He was taking full responsibility for the recruitment.
The Chairperson thanked the delegation from Mogalakwena, and they were excused from the remainder of the meeting.
Deliberations with Intervention Team
Ms Ngaka Dumalisile, Head of Department: Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (COGHSTA), Limpopo, said since the meeting on 6 December 2019, an intervention team had been appointed. The period of intervention was 12 months. She introduced the rest of the team.
She said the team had received a number of memorandums from individuals and organisations alleging maladministration and financial mismanagement by some staff members from the municipality. After the completion of a rapid assessment, it had been found that the municipality had conducted a number of forensic investigations that never made it to Council. The Executive Council had taken the investigations to the Council for adoption so that the recommendations could be implemented. The Executive Council had advised that where an official was found guilty of financial mismanagement, then cases should be opened.
She said the focus of the Head of the Intervention team would be the critical issues, and the Municipal Manager would still play her role. The team would share their terms of reference with the Committee. The team had also established a monitoring and evaluation committee in order to assist with the process.
The team’s areas of focus would be the illegal appointment of service providers; labour relations; Supply Chain Management; disciplinary processes; as well as the implementation of the Bargaining Council award. The team had also approached the Hawks to ensure all information was gathered.
The Chairperson wanted to clarify what the Municipal Manager’s role would be, seeing that the intervention team was effectively in charge. What was going to be done about the continued malfeasance? Why did the intervention team not take more charge?
Mr Mpho Mogale, Executive Manager: COGTA, read from the terms of reference to confirm that no expenditure could be incurred without the signature of the Administrator.
The Chairperson said that if the status quo continued, then the intervention team would just be another burden on the fiscus.
Mr Frans Boshielo, Head of Intervention: COGHSTA, said the team had started on 17 January 2020. The team had been welcomed and this was a good thing, because support was critical in order for the intervention to succeed. There was poor management within the municipality, as well as a lack of internal controls. The intervention team was there to replace the municipality’s officials, and to recommend the actions that needed to be taken.
The Chairperson expressed concern about reading the Auditor-General’s report and always seeing queries related to non-compliance with Supply Chain Management (SCM) regulations.
Mr Boshielo said the intervention team had done a deep analysis of the proposed structure, and had determined it would be unsustainable.
The Chairperson said she did not understand why the 130 workers had not been absorbed. It appeared that other people had been appointed before the award was implemented. It appeared that the Deputy Manager of Corporate Services wielded a lot of influence in the municipality.
Mr Boshielo said it was critical that the remaining workers be absorbed quickly, because they would feel left out while others were earning an income. The labour forum and trade unions would be meeting to discuss outstanding issues. The rapid assessment had also picked up that the portfolio committees were not meeting regularly, but this had changed. There had also been a revision of the format for reporting for councillors. The impact had been more functionality.
Ms Marshae Papiah, Financial Specialist: Limpopo Provincial Treasury, said that from a financial perspective, they had developed a plan to address wasteful, irregular and fruitless expenditure.
Mr Mogale advised a targeted approach, where the most dysfunctional areas were dealt with in a collaborative effort.
Mr Brink said the intervention team could not “unsee or unheard” what had happened in the Committee Room today. It appeared that there had been serious interference on the Mayor’s part. It seemed that the real issue was the breakdown in the relationship between the Deputy Manager of Corporate Services and the Municipal Manager. He wanted to know how many officials implicated in misconduct were still employed in government. It was possible to develop a list of those officials dismissed due to misconduct.
Ms Tlou wanted to know what would be done regarding the forensic investigations. Which law enforcement agencies would be involved?
The Chairperson wanted to know if the intervention team was aware of the official who had leased a car at an exorbitant price while the team was there. Was the team just there in body? People had to know the team was there. It was no longer business as usual. She expressed concern about MPAC’s capacity. If the wage bill was allowed to grow unabated, the municipality would not be able to pay salaries or deliver services. There was a lack of consequence management.
Mr Mogale advised the Administrator that it was not up to just Parliament -- he had a right to take action.
Ms Dumalisile wanted to put the Committee at ease that the Department was aware of most of the allegations. With regard to the leased vehicle, the official had completed the transaction before the intervention team had been introduced.
Mr Boshielo welcomed the Members’ input.
The Chairperson recommended reaching out to SALGA to see how they could assist in the intervention. She stressed the importance of capacitating MPAC so they could to carry out their functions effectively.
Mr Boshielo said he would take the recommendations on board. When the team did an inspection in loco, he would ensure that the MPAC was present.
Mr Mogale said he hoped the team would have done good stock-taking of the issue by 9 March.
The Chairperson wondered what the role of the officials would be. Would they just be supervising employees?
Mr Brink said he had already written to the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Local Government regarding the serious allegations against senior officials in the municipality.
The meeting was adjourned.
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