Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality: state of municipalities

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

11 March 2021
Chairperson: Ms F Muthambi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, 11 March 2021

The North West's district and local municipalities in the Ruth Mompati District met with the parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA).

Members were supposed to receive briefings from various roleplayers, however, discussions on the Kagisano-Molopo local Municipality and its issues, took up the whole meeting.

Members heard the Council Speaker of Molopo had ignored a court order which declared a Council seat vacant. The seat belonged to an opposition party, the Forum for Service Delivery (FSD). The FSD recalled one of its Councillors and nominated someone else to fill the vacancy. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) removed the Councillor from the IEC list. The recalled Councillor interdicted the Speaker. The court declared the interdict invalid and directed the Speaker to fill the vacancy. Despite there not being a court order which barred the Speaker from swearing in the new Councillor-elect, the Speaker upon advice of the Municipal Manager, refused to heed a lawful court order.

The Committee questioned Molopo's Mayor and Speaker regarding dishonesty. It seemed to the Committee, the Mayor and Speaker had not been in the driving seat of the affairs at the Municipality.

The Mayor and Speaker had relied on advice from a Municipal Manager who scored only at the level of basic on a competency test during the selection process, and who had no local government experience, with only an LLB Law degree.

Members questioned the good faith of the Municipal Manager and undue influence on the Mayor and Speaker. Members questioned the logic behind the removal of the former Mayor, who had compiled a report which called for the removal of the Municipal Manager, but instead of the Municipal Manager being removed, the former Mayor was removed from Office.

Members raised questions around issues of potential illegality in obtaining a quorum to pass the adjusted budget.

Members proposed an oversight visit be conducted to Molopo to gain first hand insight of the problem of rot, raised in the meeting.

The Committee spoke of invoking the Municipal Systems Act and related legislation to hold the Mayor and Speaker accountable.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said the meeting would be a continuation of the meeting held on 2 March 2020, with the district and local municipalities in the Ruth Mompati District.

The Committee resolved the Limpopo Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs should interact with the District on the Venda Building Society (VBS) matter, as contradictory information came to light.

The report was submitted on 5 March 2021 by the MEC. The province thus complied.

Limpopo was instructed to furnish the Committee with the progress and annual reports for Naledi Municipality. The Province complied.

About Ruth Mompati, the Committee asked for written responses to Members. These written questions with the detailed responses were provided. The Chairperson asked the Members to engage on the written responses.

The Committee received the report on Kagisano-Molopo local municipality, submitted by the District after the Mayor's answers. The Mayor refuted allegations levelled against the Municipality.

The Chairperson said she found it strange the MEC was asked to intervene as a matter of urgency, and yet the Municipality said it had no problems.

The Committee also received a detailed presentation from Mamusa Municipality on the unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The Committee was furnished with letters written by the Mayor as well as Speaker, authorising the municipal manager to make the necessary changes.

Other documentation provided included a settlement agreement, reached with the three officials implicated in acts of vandalism against municipal property.

The report on the dispute between the Municipality and the District regarding the R340 million summons for bulk water provision, was not provided to the Committee. The Chairperson said she had no word from officials on why the report was not submitted.

The Chairperson cautioned the Municipality to stick to deadlines to comply with relevant legislation.

She asked the Mayor to provide an explanation.

It was discovered the delegation did not even bother to pitch for the meeting.

In a decisive tone, the Chairperson asked the MEC and the Executive Mayor to call the Mayor.

The Chairperson called on Kagisano-Molopo local municipality to brief the Committee.

Kagisano-Molopo Local Municipality

Input by the North West Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

Mr Mmoloki Cwaile, North West MEC: Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, said just before this meeting with the Committee, he met with the Mayor and the Speaker, with a view to resolve the matter of Councillor Tong, of the Forum for Service Delivery (FSD).

He said Mr Tong would be sworn in by the Speaker.

The appointment of the Acting Municipal Manager was not done according to prescripts.

The Municipal Manager did not have the power to appoint anyone to act in his position.

Council was the only entity enshrined with the right to appoint a Municipal Manager or an acting one.

Events at the Municipality were heated and also allegedly included instances of people wielding guns.

He alleged community members vowed to make the Municipality ungovernable, and said the matter should be attended to as a criminal act.

He directed the Speaker to swear in Councillor Tong and to make the necessary arrangements with the magistrate who would officiate. The Municipality had not honoured the initial court judgement directing it to proceed with the swearing in.

The Mayor decided not to honour the judgement.

The person removed by his political party (FSD), interdicted the Mayor as well as the Magistrate from swearing in the new Councillor. He said it was incorrect to allege there was a legal impediment to the swearing in. He blamed the Municipality and the Speaker. The Speaker failed to swear in the new Councillor and said he would be taking her to court. He said he would exhaust all legal avenues and the Speaker would then incur a financial burden. He also detailed the process which unfolded prior to the Committee meeting.

He said he interacted with the Councillor who was removed by the FSD, and told the Councillor he was welcome to pursue legal challenges, though nothing prevented the swearing in from happening.

He said he would drag the Speaker to court, and that the Municipality made a serious mistake with the Municipal Manager, as well as the issue of Councillor Tong. He once again said the Municipal Manager did not have the power to appoint his acting successor. This right was conferred on Council.

The Province said all irregularities at the Municipality had to be resolved. The only two issues he wanted to entertain he spoke about, and he hoped the process would be concluded.

Kagisano-Molopo Council

The Chairperson turned her attention to the Speaker of the Council, Ms Stokie Rachel Modise, and asked how the situation deteriorated to this point. She wanted to know how it came about abnormal things happened under the Speaker's watch.

Speaker Modise said she really could not say a lot as she sought legal help and assistance concerning the issues highlighted in the meeting. She was looking for legal advice as this was not easily attainable. She only had light of these issues when she met with the MEC earlier in the afternoon. The MEC promised his office would consult with legal advisors. When she was in the meeting she had no legal representatives.

She was guided by the Municipal Manager in the absence of any legal advice. The FSD created a big problem for her and she was prepared to swear in the new Councillor.

The Speaker said she was presented with a court order preventing her from conducting the swearing-in. She said everything she did was on the advice of the Municipal Manager. She said she does not know about the legal aspect of it. She compiled a report which was submitted to the MEC. Members should be cognisant she did not have a legal background.

The report detailed the intra party problems experienced by the FSD. At no time did the Municipality intervene as a party on any of the five cases. It was Council's intention to deliberate on the matter, however upon advice she decided not to call a Council sitting, as the current rules of order prevented such an action.

The Chairperson asked the Speaker if she prepared the summary she had just read to the Committee.

Speaker Modise replied that she was the drafter of the summary.

Mr G Mpumza (ANC) asked for clarity on the summary the Speaker presented. He said the Speaker spoke of court orders and then of rules of order. He wanted to know what exactly the Speaker had spoken about.

Speaker Modise quoted the rules of order. The Council could not sit, as Rule 19 of Council dictated Council could not deliberate on a matter still before the Courts.

The Chairperson asked the Speaker if, according to her understanding, the Speaker would be able to explain what she just read.

Speaker Modise said she quoted the summary, as she could not take the matter to Council.

She could not do this alone and needed assistance. When she wanted to take the matter to Council she was advised the rules did not allow her to take the matter to Council.

Mr B Hadebe (ANC) asked the Speaker if she wanted to utilise the Tswana translation service, as the Speaker struggled to articulate herself in English.

Speaker Modise confirmed, through an interpreter, a court order directed her to swear in the new Councillor. There were many back and forth’s after one Councillor died. She wanted action. The matter did not proceed to court due to lockdown. In an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) letter dated 16 September 2020, and another one on 13 October 2020, she was directed to swear in the new Councillor. One of the letters was directed to the Municipal Manager, informing of the appointment of the new Councillor from FSD.

After this communication, the Speaker received the urgent court interdict granted against her.

On 14 October 2020 another urgent application was lodged and granted against the Municipality. The interdict also barred the Magistrate from officiating.

She said the FSD was plagued by infighting. She had not acted on purpose, nor did she have any legal advice.

She reiterated her earlier comments about the meeting she had with the MEC.

The MEC, had of course, informed her she should proceed with the swearing-in ceremony for the new Councillor.

She was however advised by the Chief Whip of Council, due to time constraints, she should wait until the next day to officially communicate the need for the local Magistrate to officiate the swearing-in ceremony, to him.

She said it was important for her Office to first make all the necessary preparations for the swearing-in ceremony and she was prepared to do this. She received the MECs instruction too late.

She was happy the matter would now be laid to rest and thanked the MEC for his intervention.

The Chairperson asked the Mayor if she wanted to add anything and said she totally agreed with the submission made by the Speaker.


Mr K Ceza (EFF) recalled the answers provided by the Municipality to the Committee, about the Councillor who interdicted Council. He expressed his dismay about the Municipality continuing to pay the former Councillor even after he was removed as a Councillor by the IEC.

He found it strange the Municipality denied any salaries were paid to the now former Councillor. The Municipality had to account to the Committee with a detailed report about why it continued to pay the former Councillor, even after he was removed. He asked why the Municipality denied it was paying.

There was clear evidence the former Councillor attended council meetings. He wanted to know if the former Councillor attended these meetings voluntarily. He also wanted to know if there were any supporting documents, or any other information the MEC could provide regarding what would happen next. He said he found it difficult just to take the word of the MEC. The Committee needed specific evidence coupled with timeframes.

Ms R Direko (ANC) touched on the unauthorised, irregular, fruitless, and wasteful expenditure. She wanted to know if there was any consequence management taken against the Municipal Manager.

She also wanted to know when the Acting Municipal Manager assumed duty, and why the Council dragged its feet to institute consequence management.

She asked what happened during the previous years when the Municipality reported irregular expenditure.

She recalled the Municipality said Council provided sound leadership governance, yet it was apparent this was not the case. The MEC earlier confirmed the Municipal Manager in fact appointed an Acting Municipal Manager irregularly.

If everything was supposed to be in order, why did the Municipality continue to find itself foul of prescripts.

The recommendation by the Auditor-General (AG) was not instituted, and this signified a blatant act of non-compliance. This refuted claims by the Municipality it was well managed.

Mr M Montwedi (EFF) wanted to know for how long the irregular appointment of the Acting Municipal Manager would stand, and asked about the actions he took.

He asked why the Speaker pleaded ignorance when the Municipality's corporate services were supposed to help the Speaker obtain legal services. Municipal corporate services everywhere in the country had the duty. In light of this, he wanted to know if the Municipality had a legal manager. He said it was evident the Speaker received bad advice from the Municipal Manager on several occasions. In his view, the Municipal Manager clearly misled the Speaker. It was because of a judgement received on 8 January 2020, which rescinded the interdict against the Speaker and the Magistrate, the former was supposed to proceed in the exercise of constitutional powers to swear in the new Councillor. Despite the direction from the first court judgement, the Speaker decided not to comply with a court order. The MEC then instructed the Speaker to swear in the new Councillor. He called for an investigation into the conduct at the Municipality, and said the Municipal Manager in fact took advantage of the Speaker and the Mayor, who were both elderly.

Mr B Hadebe (ANC) noted concern about the Municipality having no legal representatives. He wanted to know if this was true.

After Mr Hadebe's comment, the Chairperson called on the North West Provincial Legislature for input.

The Chairperson of the North West Legislature's Standing Committee on Cooperative Governance, Mr Aaron Motswana (ANC, North West MPL) said the Standing Committee visited the District during a second quarter oversight visit.

During this oversight visit a meeting was held which included Provincial Treasury.

The implicated Municipal Manager accompanied the Mayor and Speaker to the meeting.

He told Members he had firsthand knowledge of the Municipal Manager having taken advantage of the two elderly ladies, being the Mayor and the Speaker.

During an official event he sat between the Speaker and the Municipal Manager. During the engagement, the Municipal Manager tried to provide a mumbling explanation about why the new Councillor should not be sworn in. This explanation and the blatant insubordination by the Municipal Manager went unchecked by the Speaker, who did not call him out on his behaviour. He said he directed the MEC to withhold the Municipality's equitable share.

Mr Motswana labelled the Municipality as chaotic and the Municipal Manager as running amok, or rampant, within the Municipality.

He claimed the Municipal Manager became a law unto himself, who often provided fraught guidance to the Municipality and Council.

If the Municipality persisted with non-compliance, then it had to carry the financial burden of having to pay the newly nominated Councillor retroactively.

He said it was not true the Municipality did not have access to legal services.

The Province told the Municipal Manager he was barred from using public money for his frivolous legal adventures.

The Speaker was also informed she should not defend, nor interfere in inter-party political matters.

He told Members the appointment and removal of a Councillor remained the prerogative of a political party and the Speaker should not intervene.

It was regrettable the situation escalated to this point, he said.

He also recalled the Speaker was directed by two former MECs to comply with the judgement, yet the Municipality did its own thing anyway.

He noted the Municipality defied these calls.

The Municipal Manager terminated contracts illegally, dismissed people irregularly, and appointed lawyers outside of supply chain processes. He hoped in the event of non-compliance, the matter would be escalated to the judiciary.

Both the National Assembly Portfolio Committee, as well as the Province, had to keep a close eye on this Municipality.

He also claimed the Municipal Manager spent R8 million on mobile municipal offices. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Municipality did not even know about this acquisition. The instruction came from the Municipal Manager, who informed him. He found this matter regrettable. The issue at hand was unrelated to a lack of political will, and simply pointed towards obstruction of a court order.

The Municipality turned a blind eye to the actions of the Municipal Manager who was charged. He told the Municipal Manager there was no consequence management. The Municipal Manager went on a rampage, and he appointed his own successor. He had apparently done this in the wake of the continued process to question all municipalities Section 56 managers.

Mr F Sonakile (DA, North West MPL) said his input would be in line with those of Mr Motswana's.

It was important for this Municipality's non-compliance and bad governance to be highlighted at national level.

The problems being discussed by the Committee had already been discussed by the Standing Committee. He viewed the Municipality as delinquent, and was shocked to learn about the report on unauthorised, irregular, fruitless, and wasteful expenditure.

According to Mr Sonakile, Mr Motswana had been correct to instruct the Mayor to discipline the Municipal Manager. He suggested Members ask the Mayor if she instituted disciplinary action against the Municipal Manager, as instructed by Mr Motswana.

Mr Sonakile also touched on the mobile offices and the construction of office buildings at a cost of R14 million. He questioned why the Municipality leased offices when it had a brand new municipal building. Members would be shocked when learning of the extent of the rot.

He noted shock at the Speaker having pleaded ignorance. He recalled, whenever the Provincial Legislature engaged with the Municipality, the former was always told the Municipal Manager provided legal advice.

He said, on 29 September 2020, the Council adopted an adjusted Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). This Act was illegal, he said, as there was no quorum. He said, in his view, no Municipality existed at all, given the serious woes and mismanagement.

Follow-up comments and questions by Members

Mr Mpumza said in view of the inputs by Mr Motswana and Mr Sonakile, it became clear the earlier responses by the Speaker did not paint an accurate picture. The Speaker's argument saying she had no legal advice, cut no ice, as all municipalities should have legal advisers, regardless if it is internal or privately sourced.

The Municipal Manager was the accounting officer at the Municipality, and questioned why the Speaker provided misleading statements to a Committee.

He said the role of the Municipal Manager was to facilitate legal services for the Municipality. He questioned what type of leadership the Speaker provided. He said it seemed as if the Speaker was comfortable with the situation. This matter, he said, need not have been challenged by the Speaker. It was only a matter of a new Councillor. He questioned the motives behind the Speaker's alleged misleading information to a parliamentary committee.

The Chairperson asked the Speaker to take the Chairperson into her confidence, after listening attentively to the MPLs. She said it was evident the Municipality lost several court cases and wanted to ascertain the qualifications and experience the Municipal Manager possessed, and if he passed all competency tests. She also wanted to find out for how long the Municipal Manager was in the employ of the Municipality.

Ms H Mkhaliphi (EFF) also touched on the qualifications of the Municipal Manager and wanted to know if the Municipal Manager met the requirements for the post.

She said she listened attentively to Mr Motswana and Mr Sonakile and concluded the Council leadership had to account for its decisions.

She said if the matter remained unresolved, she would be frustrated. She asked why the matter was not resolved earlier.

After the legislature's intervention she questioned if the Municipal Manager was fit and proper to be the accounting officer of a municipality.

The Chairperson was not pleased the Molopo delegation interrupted the meeting with background conversations.

The Chairperson called on the Mayor to account.

Replies by Mayor

Ms Segomotso Virginia Mere, Mayor: Kagisano-Molopo Local Municipality, said she understood every single word the MPLs uttered, and was subsequently informed the Municipal Manager was appointed in 2017 and had a LLB degree. The MEC told the Municipality the Municipal Manager had to go and study for eighteen months to bolster his knowledge. Soon after, the MEC contacted the Mayor through Whatsapp, and the two office bearers held deliberations about the concurrence letter for the Municipal Manager's appointment, as well as the FSD court case.

The Chairperson asked the Mayor to attend to the questions about the Municipal Manager's qualifications and experience. She said the Mayor did not answer the question about the Municipal Manager's qualifications, other than his degree. She asked if the Municipal Manager had any local government experience and if he obtained a qualification from College of People Management and Development (CPMD).

Mayor Mere said the previous Municipal Manager also advised Council, and she saw no problem with it, since her deployment in December 2018, when the Municipal Manager was appointed.

The Chairperson repeated her question regarding if the Mayor had a CMPD qualification when he was appointed. She also repeated her previous question about the Mayor’s local government experience.

Mayor Mere could not provide an answer.

Input by former Mayor of and current Member of the North West Standing Committee on COGTA

Ms Botsa Lenkopane said she had never taken any unilateral decision as Mayor, as the Council had to approve all decisions. She was not an executive Mayor.

The Municipal Manager's appointment had been ratified by Council, after she tabled a report which recommended his appointment. It later emerged the Municipal Manager scored basic on all tests. He also did not possess the relevant experience for the job. After she met with the then MEC, she received an instruction from the then national Minister of COGTA and the MEC who instructed her to get "rid" of the municipal manager.

She said she then took the instruction to Council, who agreed with her the Municipal Manager's contract had to be terminated. When it came time for Council to follow through on what Council had agreed on, she was instead removed as Mayor, by the Council.

The Chairperson asked for clarity on what the former Mayor just said. She repeated what she thought the former Mayor said, regarding when she took the resolution to terminate the Municipal Manager’s contract, she found herself removed by Council instead.

Ms Lenkopane confirmed what the Chairperson repeated.

The Chairperson asked the Mayor to respond.

Mayor Mere said she had been part of the Council who took the decision to remove the Mayor. As a consequence of the removal of the former Mayor , the latter took Council to court. She was part of the Council which took the decision.

The Chairperson said the Mayor had misled the Committee, as the Mayor had not informed the Committee there was a process to terminate the contract of the Municipal Manager.

According to the Chairperson, it was evident the Municipal Manager had not met the necessary requirements to fulfil such a role. The Mayor was on record about the chaos she presided over. The Mayor claimed she did not see the concurrence letter.

The Chairperson said the Mayor did not take Members seriously.

Replies by the Speaker

Council Speaker Modise replied she searched for the concurrence letter when she assumed Office. She could not find the concurrence letter. Her main aim had always been to remove the Municipal Manager and her efforts were "disturbed" by the former Mayor.

The Chairperson said the matter should have been presented to Council, and she wanted to be furnished with all the documentation related to appointment of the Municipal Manager.

The Mayor replied she was not, as if she wanted this specific Municipal Manager to be employed. She said she was looking into how the Municipal Manager was appointed in the first place.

She once again said she looked for the Council resolution and concurrence letter which detailed the appointment of the Municipal Manager. She once again said the Municipal Manager could speak for himself.

Follow-up comments and questions by Members

The Chairperson said the Municipal Manager had not appointed himself, and as the political head she had to answer for developments at the Municipality. The Mayor had also been a member of Council who first ratified the appointment of the Municipal Manager, only to remove her predecessor when the latter wanted to table a resolution to have the Municipal Manager removed.

The Chairperson said the Council had taken a decision to appoint a Municipal Manager, of which the Mayor had been a part, yet she claimed she did not know how the Municipal Manager got appointed. Surely, she had the agenda for the meeting as well.

She said the Mayor knew what she had done.

She accused the Mayor of having turned a blind eye to the problems created by the Municipal Manager when it had been found to be incompetent.

Ms T Williams (ANC, North West MPL) said the Mayor should give a sequence of the events as it had unfolded at the Municipality. The MEC had given contradictory recollections about a concurrence letter she had sought from two MECs.

The Mayor had said the previous Municipal Manager had also advised Council on legal matters, yet the Mayor took advice from the person she had a supposed dispute with.

Ms Williams said whoever had prepared the Mayor for the meeting, did a very good job. However, the Mayor had been able to respond to her own submission.

Mr Montwedi said certain provisions of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) stipulated, should any municipal official provide incorrect or misleading information on governance related issues as the conduct of the Municipal, clearly showed, then that person should face criminal charges.

The conditions of employment for senior managers should also be looked at, as it was a known fact when the Municipal Manager had been appointed, the Municipal Manager did not meet the requirements for the position. He also blamed the former Mayor, and said she should also be held to account, as she was the Mayor at the time. She had taken part in the decision to appoint the Municipal Manager, and she had started the whole fiasco.

He found it interesting the individuals involved had not realised local government was a highly regularised sphere of government. He said people vote on the interpretation of the law and the Mayor said the Municipal Manager had been found to have only basic competency. In the normal course of events, someone who scored only on the basic level - would not even receive a salary. He further said, whoever had taken the decision to appoint the Municipal Manager, had to refund the Municipality for all the months the Municipal Manager had received a salary since his appointment.


Mayor Mere replied she had not been confused about the two former MECs when she spoke of her quest to obtain the concurrence letter.

She said she was also accompanied by the Chief Whip of Council, as well as the Council's Chairperson of Committees who could assist with replies.

Background noise emanated from the Molopo delegation again, and the Chairperson admonished the Mayor and Speaker for disturbing the meeting, in a harsh tone.

The Speaker said the MEC had written a letter which detailed the removal of the former FSD Councillor. After the intervention of the MEC, a report had been compiled by the Speaker.

She said she was happy after her meeting with the MEC earlier. She would be writing to the Magistrate to say Councillor Tong should be sworn in.

She had met with the Chief Whip of Council who had advised she should wait until the next day, as it was already late.

She said she was also happy to have spoken to Mr Motswana and an EFF MPL.

Mr Motswana seemed happy and told her, he would call her and advise on the way forward.

Mr SK Moreki said he was a member of the Council's troika (Chief Whip), and said as of now, the Municipal Manager had joined the meeting.

He was busy recovering at home after an accident and had been cleared by the Mayor to return to work anytime after his recovery.

An Acting Municipal Manager had never been appointed as alleged. He said the Director of Planning had been furnished with a written Delegation of Authority, so service delivery could continue.

He was adamant no acting manager existed, and thought it important to provide clarity.

According to him, he had addressed the allegation of an acting Municipal Manager having been appointed.

The Chairperson interjected and reprimanded Mr Moreki. She reminded him he had been asked to answer two questions.

Mr Moreki replied he was about to do exactly this.

On the FSD and Mr Tong, he said it remained a serious concern he hoped would be concluded. The confusion had started a "war" between Councillors and after consultations with the Speaker and Municipal Manager, upon advice of the Municipal Manager, Mr Tong had been informed he was not a Councillor. Mr Tong had allegedly tried to force his way into Council with his supporters. This had created chaos in Council.

Council awaited a court order directing Mr Tong to be sworn in. Until such a court order, the current FSD Councillor remained as a full member of Council, with all entitled benefits.

The Chairperson said the Committee interacted with various mayors, all of whom could speak to the technical aspects to show the mayors were in charge of the respective municipalities.

Follow-up questions by Members

Mr Ceza touched on the continued salary payments to the former FSD Councillor, who had been removed from the IEC list. He deemed these continued salary payments as illegal.

He questioned how the previous speaker could say the payments through the former Councillor had not been considered as illegal.

The Chairperson asked the Mayor to respond to the questions as well.

Mayor Mere said the Councillor still received remuneration, as he was still considered a member of Council, because his case was pending at the courts.

 She said she and the Council had not been aware of any wrongdoing on its part.

As it happened in Council, two names had been presented to Council. The Council then took a decision saying Councillor Tong was not yet a legitimate councillor.

Inputs by MEC Cwaile

He said a court order had been granted by the courts in favour of the FSD in December. The court ruled a vacancy should be declared with the IEC.

The courts would have interdicted a possible swearing in ceremony. The Municipal Manager had been the respondent in this case. The Speaker committed a grave error by not conducting the swearing in ceremony, and decided to obstruct a lawful court order.

He said he had instructed the Mayor and the Speaker, regarding the Councillor being sworn in by no later than Tuesday, 22 March 2021.

When the Councillor who had been fairly removed by his own political party went to court, the Speaker failed in her duties.

If she did not comply, he would seek an enforcement order from the court against the Speaker in her personal capacity. He asked to be allowed to resolve this matter and said he would provide a report by no later than Wednesday the following week.

On the Municipal Manager, he said he did not have a problem if the Municipal Manager returned to work. The problem was, the Municipal Manager had appointed an Acting Municipal Manager. The Council should have been the body to appoint.

The Chairperson said this was an urgent matter and urged the MEC to conclude the matter.

Mr Motswana said he was comforted because the MEC had promised radical action to correct this particular Municipality.

The Standing Committee would also like to conclude this matter, and he awaited the progress report of the MEC as well.

The Standing Committee also appreciated the speed at which the matter was handled. He did however express his concern with the cat and mouse game played by the Council leadership. He asked if Council was aware of the constitutional powers Members enjoyed. It seemed as if the Municipality's leadership thought this would just be an ordinary meeting which would lapse at a particular time, and then the Council would be scot free.

He engaged with the leadership on the issues raised in the meeting, and the two former MECs of COGTA had also engaged with the Municipal Manager on the very same issue. He blamed the Mayor and the Speaker for the chaos which ensued as a result of the Municipal Manager.

The Municipality did not even become a respondent in the court case, yet it advanced its own reason for not honouring the court order.

It could not even provide any appeal documents to strengthen and support its claims.

He also recalled the Mayor had confirmed the Councillor who was removed by the FSD, upon which the courts declared the seat vacant, did not stop the Municipality from remunerating the former Councillor.

The Speaker had failed on this matter and the Committee should consider invoking Schedule One of the Municipal Systems Act in conjunction with the Municipal Structures Act. He was really worried about the conduct of the Mayor and Speaker who had blatantly lied to the Committee. At one stage, he used to be on the Mayor and Speaker’s side, however, he is now convinced these two are part of the problem. The Municipal Manager, he claimed, ran rough shod over various pieces of legislation.

The Municipality had to account. He said he had never told the Speaker he would be calling her. He said he had this on record and the uniform rules had been the topic of discussion, yet it was totally irrelevant to the subject at hand.

Councillors even refused to interpret the law and the Municipal Manager had taken advantage of the Mayor and the Speaker.

For as long as the Municipal Manager remained in his position, the Standing Committee would remain worried.

The Standing Committee did not want to prescribe what to do to the Municipality, yet it was important for the Municipality to ensure all prescripts and governance related issues were addressed.

The Standing Committee had problems with the adjusted budget. He said the R24 million adjusted budget had been approved illegally. Councillors had written to the COGTA Minister about the illegal activities which occurred during the adoption of the adjusted budget.

The Chairperson said she wanted to ask the Speaker a straight question. She asked if any signatures had been falsified.

Speaker Modise refuted the allegations levelled against the Council that signatures had been falsified. She claimed a Councillor had appended his signature at the wrong place and this was corrected later.

The Chairperson wanted to know why the Speaker had adopted a budget without a quorum. She said an affidavit to this effect had been lodged by eight councillors who claimed to not have been part of the sitting, yet the councillors names had signatures appended. The Councillors had also apparently voted in favour of the adjusted budget.

The Chairperson asked the Mayor why she was laughing. She wanted to know what discussions the Mayor and the Speaker had engaged in during the meeting. The Committee was not being taken seriously.

Mayor Mere said the Municipality did not have the budget to buy electronic or multimedia equipment.

The Chairperson said she found it ironic to know the Municipality had been able to rent office space at very exorbitant rates, yet the Municipality could not afford to buy laptops and other communication devices for councillors. It seemed as if the Mayor and the Speaker had strategised during the course of the meeting. She accused the two of not taking the meeting seriously and taking Members for fools.

Mayor Mere said she and the Speaker had not disrespected Members and said she had removed her mask. This had been the noise the Chairperson heard. She said she and the Speaker were busy using the same laptop as the other one had been sent for repairs.

The Chairperson recalled she had addressed the very same matter during the previous meeting.

She said the Speaker should take note of the questions she had posed as it related to an illegal meeting presided over by the Speaker.

This meeting did not have a quorum and some signatures had been falsified. She said one particular Councillor had not attended the meeting, yet his name appeared in the register.

She called on the Speaker and the Mayor to stop the dishonesty, as it bordered on the unbelievable.

Speaker Modise said, with all due respect, she would never disrespect the Chairperson, as she did not know the Chairperson. She said the roll-call of members had also been conducted.

The Chairperson said the register attached to the letter sent to the Minister had clearly indicated certain Councillors had attended the meeting and signed, yet had not been there. Three signatures appeared to have been done by one person.

Speaker Modise replied, she had told the Chairperson the "gospel truth", and it was ANC councillors who had left the meeting.

The Chairperson said she was very frustrated with the slow pace of the meeting, since it had started at 7pm.

After four hours of deliberations, not one question had been fully answered by the delegation.

The complaints against the Speaker had been raised by her own ANC cadres, and she wondered why these councillors would make such serious allegations against the Speaker.

The Speaker said she had told the Committee the truth about what had transpired at the Council meeting on the day in question. She said the eight councillors had left the meeting.

The Chairperson said the Speaker had proceeded with the meeting without a quorum.

Speaker Modise was adamant a quorum had been formed. She proceeded with the Council meeting. She could unfortunately not recall the 15 names of the councillors who attended and voted for the adjusted budget.

She said she would not want to be in a position where she forgot or included names which had not been there, and then ended up lying to the Committee. She could lodge the register with the MEC for verification.

The Chairperson said she found it interesting to see Councillor KS Moreki had been shown to be part of the meeting, yet it was evident his signature had clearly been falsified

In the case of Cllr Moreki, the register showed he had allegedly signed it at 16:25 – much later than the others. This was well after the Council had adjourned.  

Speaker Modise said Mr Moreki had sat to her left, and she did not even think about doing anything illegal, as she did not want to end up in jail.

The Chairperson said she found it strange to see the Speaker could remember where he sat, yet she could not remember all of the names of the councillors who attended the meeting.

She questioned why these 18 councillors would make such an allegation against the Speaker. She wanted to know if there had been anything else the Speaker had not told the meeting about.

The Speaker had earlier said she did not have access to the attendance register, yet she just read from the register.

The Chairperson asked where the register suddenly came from and if the Speaker was taking members for a ride.

Speaker Modise asked the Chairperson not to be too hard on her.

The Chairperson said she had not been hard on the Speaker. She simply wanted to know how it came to be the Speaker now had access to the register, when she had earlier claimed she did not have the register with her. The Chairperson said the Speaker had the register in her possession, yet she did not inform the committee about it.

She recalled the Speaker had said a majority of councillors, 15 out of 29 councillors, voted to adopt the adjusted budget.

Speaker Modise said she had reported the councillors to the ANC.

Mr I Groenewald (FF+) asked how many councillors had attended the adjusted budget meeting in total. He also wanted to know how many councillors had voted against the adjusted budget.

Speaker Modise said all the councillors had voted in support of the adjusted budget. She said 15 councillors had attended and voted for the adjusted budget.

There were no abstentions.

Mr Groenewald said he was certain the two DA councillors would not have voted for the adjusted budget.

He told the Speaker, in the event the adjusted budget had been adopted by a minority of councillors, the R24 million budget would have to be recouped, as it would be considered as irregular expenditure.

The Speaker replied, she had indicated eight councillors had left the meeting, and the rest had continued with the work of Council.

Speaker Modise said the eight ANC councillors who had left the meeting had not voted.

The Chairperson asked what the ANC had to with the Mayor enforcing Council rules.

Mr Groenewald asked if the Speaker had conducted a roll call of attendance. He said the North West municipalities had become notorious for voting on matters based on a quorum only at the beginning of its Council meetings. The Systems Act stipulated a quorum was required for each vote. What he did not understand was if 23 councillors in total had attended the meeting, with 15 councillors having voted in favour of the adjusted budget, after the eight councillors had left the Chamber.

The Chairperson said there would be serious consequences if the adjusted budget had been passed illegally.

The Speaker said 15 councillors had attended and voted for the adjusted budget, and a roll call had been conducted, name by name.

Mr Groenewald raised a point of order.

He said he failed to understand the difficulty of the question he had posed, regarding how many councillors had been present at the beginning of the meeting.

Speaker Modise replied that the meeting had started with 15 councillors.

Mr Hadebe suggested the Chairperson adjourn the meeting for the day, and the Committee should resolve to conduct an oversight visit to the Municipality to get first-hand experience of the challenges at the Municipality.

Regarding Mr Groenewald’s question, he said it seemed as if Mr Groenewald was confused. There was a caucus meeting before Council’s sitting. The eight councillors walked out of the caucus meeting.

Under normal circumstances, political parties caucused before council meetings. The meeting had not gone anywhere and the Committee had prided itself on being effective in its oversight capabilities.

He said the Committee should undertake an oversight visit to the Municipality, who had to provide all relevant documentation.

Ms Direko said the Committee had discussed a lot of nothing for nothing for at least two hours. She also proposed an oversight visit be conducted to get to the bottom of the rot at the Municipality.

This was the second time the Committee had interacted with the Municipality and it would be best to suspend the Committee's activity.

Mr Mpumza said discussions had not moved at all and it seemed as if the Committee would not be getting any answers from the Mayor and the Speaker.

He recalled the Chairperson had earlier asked what should be done as the best course of action. He proposed the Committee should undertake an oversight visit to the Municipality to have more clarity on the matters raised.

 Mr Groenewald said he thought it would be easier for the Mayor and the Speaker to submit the minutes of the Council meeting when the adjusted budget had been adopted. Something did not make sense. The Council had 22 councillors, of which eight had left, which meant 14 should have remained.

It was pertinent for the Municipality to provide all the necessary documentation otherwise there would be serious repercussions.

Mr Sonakile said Members had deliberately been misled.

The meeting had not gone anywhere and the Standing Committee had gotten used to the behaviour of the Ruth Mompati District. He also said he would welcome an oversight visit, so Members can see the issues raised, firsthand.

Earlier, the Mayor had said she was being accompanied by several office bearers of Council. She asked the MEC who had been with her in the meeting to go and fetch the attendance register.

The Mayor was busy playing games. He looked at the signature of the Councillor at number nine on the register, and when you compare the signature with another signature, it looked the same. He said this was suspicious.

Almost all the members argued the Councillor who had been removed by the FSD had occupied the seat illegally. If the Chairperson looked deeply into the matter, she would establish this particular individual had been well placed to give the meeting a quorum.

Mr Montwedi said he remembered the MEC said he would provide the committee with a report. He said he did not want to dictate the terms of reference to the MEC, however he would like to propose the following be included in the report:  the role played by the Municipal Manager, the role played by the Council, and the financial implications of the questionable adjusted budget.

He said the report should also speak to the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) rules of order. If a meeting was scheduled to start at 2pm, and the meeting was 20 minutes late, the Speaker should then make a decision regarding if the meeting should proceed or not.

The Chairperson said it was interesting to see Councillor Moreki signed the register at 16:25 pm, two hours after the time the meeting had been rescheduled. The meeting did not have a quorum, and now the Speaker had said the Councillor had signed late.

She agreed with the oversight visit proposal by Members, and said the Committee should also invoke Article 15 of the Powers and Privileges Act.

The Chairperson said if the Committee conducted an oversight visit or not, the fact remained, this had been the second interaction with this Municipality.

The Committee had not even dealt with all the other matters. Neither the Mayor nor the Speaker had answered the questions fully.

She did not rule out an oversight visit however she asked Members to await the report by the MEC.

The reality was there existed no Council at this Municipality. It was common knowledge the Municipal Manager ran the Council.

According to the Chairperson, the Municipal Manager had taken full advantage of the haplessness of the Mayor and the Speaker. No amount of administrative intervention would help. The Municipal Manager had dominated the Speaker and the Mayor. She said this had been evident and she called on SALGA to do a skills audit of South Africa's councillors.

Not a single councillor in the municipality had matric, except the Municipal Manager, as the accounting officer. She found this fact the most disturbing, and this had exacerbated the problem.

When someone chopped and changed statements, this normally indicated dishonesty. If the Committee did not act, it would seem toothless, and this would seriously undermine the work of the Committee.

She then turned her attention to Segomotsi Municipality. She asked why it failed to comply with deadlines set by the Committee. The deadlines relate to it providing various reports on the dispute between the District and the local Municipality, regarding the VBS saga and the landfill drama.

She took the Executive Mayor to task for the blatant non-compliance and failure to inform the Committee the Municipality would not be able to comply.

The Mayor of Segomotsi apologised for not submitting the relevant documentation on time.

The Chairperson asked the Mayor to explain what she intended to do about the Chief Financial Officer’s (CFOs) conduct.

The Mayor said she would engage the Municipal Manager on why the relevant documentation had not been submitted in time. She said she would then instruct the Municipal Manager to discipline the CFO.

The Chairperson said she hoped the Mayor would stick to her word, and she should learn to delegate, as the Mayor knew about the meeting.

The Mayor said at the end of the last meeting, she might have misunderstood.

The Chairperson said the Mayor had to sign off on all reports to the Committee.

The Chairperson said Members could pose written questions to Mamusa.

The meeting was adjourned.


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