Ntambanana, Hibiscus Coast & Buhlebengwe Municipalities Interventions: briefing by KwaZulu-Natal MEC

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Meeting report

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LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE
9 November 2004
NTAMBANANA, HIBISCUS COAST AND BUHLEBENGWE MUNICIPALITIES INTERVENTIONS: BRIEFING BY KWAZULU-NATAL MEC

Chairperson:
Mr S Shiceka (ANC)

Available documents:
Section 106(3) Statement About Hibiscus Coast Municipality
Section 106(3) Statement About Ntambanana Municipal Area
Section 106(3) Statement About Ubuhlebezwe Municipality

SUMMARY
[The first hour of this meeting was unfortunately not monitored by PMG. The Order Paper stated that the meeting was scheduled for 2 p.m. but the meeting in fact started at 1 p.m. PMG should be able to obtain a report on the first hour if this meeting soon.]

The KwaZulu-Natal Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) briefed the meeting on the Section 106 investigations being conducted into the alleged irregularities at a number of the province's municipalities. Members were concerned at the slow pace of investigative action, and feared a breakdown in service delivery. The MEC stressed that caution was required to not destroy reputations without justification. They intended to establish effective partnerships between the public and Councillors.

MINUTES

MEC briefing
Mr Michael Mabuyakhulu (MEC for Local Government, Housing and Traditional Affairs) briefed the meeting on the investigations being conducted into the alleged irregularities at a number of municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal. He stressed that caution was required to not destroy reputations without justification. They intended to establish effective partnerships between the public and Councillors.

Discussion
Mr M Mzizi (IFP) asked whether the standard procedures for awarding tenders had been followed, whether any arrests had been made or if culprits were being pursued, whether any Councils had passed illegal resolutions, and whether Mayors had acted unilaterally.

Mr Z Ntuli (ANC) asked whether the South African Police Service was assisting in the investigations.

Mr A Moseki (ANC) wondered whether councillors had tried to 'divert' the investigations.

Mr B Mkaliphi (ANC) was concerned that, as the relevant municipalities being investigated were small and rural, how the would cope with service delivery under this cloud of allegations. Were interventions in terms of Section 139 contemplated?

Mr D Worth (DA) was not sure where these municipalities were situated.

Ms P Hollander (ANC) appreciated the MEC's assurance that the warning lights that had indicated possible mismanagement, were being heeded.

The Chairperson asked how information had come through and insisted that the outcomes be reported of investigations into unethical behaviour.

Mr Mabuyakhulu responded that better supply chain management would ensure that correct tender procedures were followed. Certain sections of the Procurement Act would be repealed but new legislation would retain some provisions of the old. It was imperative that judgement on the allegations be reserved until the investigations were completed. Any Council decisions had to be made inside the law. For example, if a Mayor and his family were making private use of council property, such as a car, which was illegal, a Council decision condoning this would be ultra vires.

He reported that the Ntambanana criminal and internal reports were expected during that week. Affected parties were co-operating. The internal audit unit of the province, which had the forensic capacity, was investigating. They intended to go to the affected communities after investigations had been completed, in order to promote a partnership between councillors and the people. Legislative action would be reported in the Government Gazette.

The Chairperson insisted that all MEC's should report to the Committee on the state of their municipalities, and whether ward committees and traditional leaders' local councils had been established. Were Departments geared to support municipalities? Improving safety and security was progressing at a snail's pace. In the Eastern Cape, the Scorpions were investigating various municipalities.

The MEC concluded that a focused intervention could only come after reports had been delivered, The wisdom of the Committee was required. No person's good name should not be destroyed without hard evidence to support such an action.

The meeting was adjourned.

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