State of Mogalakwena Local Municipality: stakeholder engagement

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

29 November 2022
Chairperson: Mr F Xasa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


In a virtual meeting, the Committee was briefed by several stakeholders on the state of Mogalakwena Local Municipality.

The Limpopo Provincial Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs and Limpopo Provincial Treasury jointly reported that some progress had been made in the areas of labour relations, strengthening recruitment processes, improving governance and the functionality of council, financial management, supply chain management and improving basic service delivery. Numerous serious problems remained, however. For example, the municipality’s 2022/23 budget was unfunded and unsustainable.

The South African Local Government Association discussed some of the support programmes it was running in the areas of municipal finance, municipal governance, municipal capabilities, Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) spending, socio-economic development and spatial transformation. 

The national Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs presented some background on the challenges at Mogalakwena. Although there had been some improvements, persistent challenges remained, such as ongoing litigation, and unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Waterberg District Municipality covered administrative support to Mogalakwena during the administration period and political interventions in response to the instability.

Mogalakwena Local Municipality discussed the status of governance in the municipality, persistent challenges and measures being taken to mitigate the challenges.

Members of the Committee asked about the outcome of the case in which 400 employees had been illegally appointed, the status of a former manager named Mr Jabu Mashamaite, the sustainability of interventions by the provincial government, ongoing infrastructure and service delivery challenges, corruption in the emergency services in Waterberg, the outcome of investigations into the assassination of the Chairperson of the municipal public accounts committee, unspent conditional grants to the value of R68m, the effectiveness of interventions by the South African Local Government Association aimed at capacity-building, and details of infrastructure projects currently under construction.

Meeting report

The Chairperson recalled that the Committee had last met with Mogalakwena Local Municipality on 3 November 2020, when the municipality had reported some challenges. This was a follow-up meeting to find out if there had been any developments since then. Presentations would be made by:

- The Limpopo Provincial Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (COGHSTA) and Limpopo Provincial Treasury (jointly)
- The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA)
- The South African Local Government Association (SALGA)
- Waterberg District Municipality
- Mogalakwena Local Municipality

Briefing by COGHSTA and Limpopo Provincial Treasury
Ms Yolyna Buys, Limpopo Provincial Treasury, presented the background and progress made toward stabilising Mogalakwena Local Municipality. Some progress has been made in the areas of labour relations, strengthening recruitment processes, improving governance and the functionality of council, financial management, supply chain management and improving basic service delivery. She listed numerous serious problems with the municipality’s 2022/23 budget, which was unfunded and not financially sustainable, and outlined a three-phase recovery plan to address the problems over the medium term, which the municipality had approved but had not acted on. The municipality continued to face challenges related to irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, consultancy fees and Eskom debt (which stood at R19m). The intervention team from the provincial government had faced its own challenges, including unwillingness from the political office bearers to unlock revenue potential at Mahwelereng and Rebone townships, non-cooperation from labour representatives on matters that require their inputs, the lack of a budget plan to resuscitate blocked projects, and poor understanding of council processes, roles and responsibilities by councillors.

See presentation for  further detail

Briefing by SALGA
An official from SALGA provided some background on how SALGA assessed the operational health of municipalities and some of the key challenges local municipalities face. He outlined SALGA’s newly-adopted support approach and some of the support programmes it was running in the areas of municipal finance and municipal governance.  

Ms Ledile Sebati, Provincial Director of Operations: Limpopo Province, SALGA, continued the presentation, discussing SALGA’s support programmes in the areas of municipal capabilities, Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) spending, socio-economic development and spatial transformation. She also discussed several other initiatives that SALGA was participating in, such as an innovative solid waste project with Mogalakwena and two other municipalities in the Waterberg district.

See presentation for  further detail

Briefing by COGTA/MISA
Ms Regina Ravele, Limpopo Provincial Manager, Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA), delivered the presentation, which covered the background to the placing of Mogalakwena Local Municipality under administration in December 2019 due to poor governance, financial mismanagement and poor service delivery, the present state of the municipality in terms of governance, administration, finances, service delivery and infrastructure development. Although there had been improvements, persistent challenges in the municipality included:

- The court cases that related to the appointment of the current Municipal Manager remained a risk to the municipality;
- The Municipality was not attending to unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful (UIFW) expenditure or reporting on actions taken to address it;
- The Municipality had no budget to fund stalled projects; and
- The Municipality had no consultancy fee reduction plan.

See presentation document for further detail

Briefing by Waterberg District Municipality
Mr Peter Makondo, Manager: Executive Support, Waterberg District Municipality, delivered the presentation, which covered the services that Waterberg ordinarily provided on behalf of its local municipalities, of which Mogalakwena was one, administrative support to Mogalakwena during the administration period, and political interventions in response to the instability.

See presentation document for further detail

Briefing by Mogalakwena Local Municipality
Mr Ngoako Taueatsoala, Executive Mayor, Mogalakwena Local Municipality, delivered the presentation. He began with some remarks on the importance of good governance. He mentioned that a training programme for councillors was being funded by Anglo American and implemented by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). He also discussed human resources management, financial management, service delivery, the establishment and functionality of the council committees, audit outcomes in 2019/20 and 2020/21, their root causes, measures taken to address the audit findings, the reasons for significant underspending in 2021/22 and the recovery plan, usage of consultants, and revenue sources for 2022/23. There had been a sharp decline in the revenue collection rate from 75% to 50% as the municipality had been unable to institute credit control processes. Challenges facing the municipality included:

- Low collection rate;
- Recovery of debt owed to the municipality;
- Aging of infrastructure in town and townships;
- Reliance on boreholes for water supply;
- Stalled/incomplete capital projects;
- Non-performance on conditional grants;
- Stealing of electrical transformers;
- Breakages of pump machines and related maintenance equipment; and
- Illegal electricity connections.

Measures being taken to mitigate the challenges included:
- Rolling out bulk water infrastructure in all settlements in the municipality;
- Sourcing of bulk water from Flag Boshielo and Doorndraai dams;
- Procurement of long-term contracts for maintenance machinery and equipment; and
- Expanding the revenue base.

See presentation document for further detail

Mr C Brink (DA) recalled that when the Committee had first engaged with the municipality in 2019, it had emerged that 400 people had been irregularly appointed. The positions were subsequently terminated but had any disciplinary or civil action been taken in response to this? He recalled that there had been a human resources manager named Mr Jabu Mashamaite who had addressed the Mayor in a threatening tone in a Committee meeting. Was Mr Mashamaite still employed by the municipality? How many employees of the municipality were currently on suspension, and how many of those suspensions had been for longer than a year?

Mr K Ceza (EFF) asked what the length of the intervention by the province would be, and what sustainable changes would it bring? How would they ensure that the changes were sustained overtime, especially when the municipality was handed back to the same people that had contributed to its deterioration? The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and AGSA questioned the quality of performance information and the usefulness and reliability of reported information. If the municipality cannot be accountable for performance, how is it going to deliver services consistently and at the required level of quality? Could the Mayor paint a picture for the Committee of the accounting environment at the municipality regarding service delivery? He was not satisfied with the findings. There was a lack of performance reports, specifically on the vandalism of water infrastructure, the theft of transformers, pumping machines, road maintenance, electricity grid expansion, incomplete Reconstruction and Development Plan (RDP) houses, and the status of toilets in the municipality. What was the cost of borehole equipment and who had been contracted to provide it? AGSA had identified material irregularities to the value of R13m. What remedial action had been taken to curtail further material irregularities? Why were early warning signs not put in place to prevent the deterioration of the municipality's financial health before a crisis developed, and what had COGHSTA done to improve the situation? He said that SALGA’s presentation did not inspire much confidence that financial management issues would be solved. Could SALGA assure the Committee that the officials and councils of the municipality have a clear understanding of the procedures they must follow to comply with the Municipal Finance Management Act? He wanted more detail on the infrastructure projects being supported by MISA. Why had only 9.4% of the budget been spent? Which three projects were in the construction phase? How many people were being employed, where were materials being sourced, and how would the projects contribute to the municipality’s revenue in future? He said there was widespread cronyism and corruption in the appointment of emergency services personnel in the Waterberg. When would Waterberg be able to provide the Committee with a comprehensive skills audit of its emergency services? How had the mining industry contributed to the well-being of the municipality? How has the tourism sector contributed to emerging black-owned small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs)? How much had been spent on consultants?

Mr G Mpumza (ANC) observed that the COGHSTA had mentioned a challenge presented by the conduct of the speaker of council at Mogalakwena. What was the nature of the conduct? Was the speaker provided with the necessary administrative support? He recalled that the municipality had been advised to involve law enforcement in investigating the problems at the municipality after the assassination of the chairperson of the municipal public accounts committee (MPAC). Had this been done? Did the office of the speaker have credible standing rules and orders to regulate the conduct of the council and its committees? Did the ethics committee implement the code of conduct and did councillors declare their interests in the prescribed time? Was the targeted capacity-building being provided by SALGA yielding positive results? He noted that Mogalakwena had once again adopted an unfunded budget. According to the MFMA, the Provincial Treasury was supposed to scrutinise municipal budgets before they were adopted. Had this occurred? Had Mogalakwena ignored the assessment and scrutiny of the Provincial Treasury? What remedial actions could the Provincial Treasury take? What action had been taken against Mr Mashamaite, the junior official who had gained political power and ran the municipality from behind the scenes? Did the municipality still employ him? AGSA had reported that Mogalakwena had unspent conditional grants amounting to R68.5m. Had it successfully applied for the rollover of this money or had it been returned? Was the weak record-keeping at the municipality a result of innocent administrative ignorance or was it a deliberate attempt to weaken internal controls to advance other agendas? What was the status of the 1 459 workers employed through the Community Works Programme (CWP)? What was the outcome of the investigation into the officials involved in the CWP in Mogalakwena? Had COGTA or SALGA assisted the municipality in adhering to standard reporting requirements for the CWP? What support was provided by Provincial Treasury and COGTA to unblock stalled projects in the municipality so that services were rendered to the community?

Ms H Mkhaliphi (EFF) said she was relieved that there was finally political stability at Mogalakwena. She also asked for an update on the 400 workers who had been illegally appointed.

Mr Basikopo Makamu. MEC: COGHSTA, Limpopo Province, recalled that the provincial government had agreed to withdraw from Mogalakwena on 22 June 2022 following a circular issued by SALGA, National Treasury and COGTA at the time of the 2021 local government elections. It had withdrawn because the situation had changed to the extent that the municipality would not be handed back to the same people who had contributed to its demise. There was a new mayor, a new council and there were different conditions. The report indicated that the municipality was beginning to enjoy political stability. He said that housing was the responsibility of the provincial government and admitted that there were several incomplete RDP houses in the municipality. He had personally visited the sites and he assured the Committee that a new contractor had been appointed to finish the construction. A budget to deal with all the incomplete houses that had been left since the year 2000 had been set aside. He confirmed that the officials who had been deployed as part of the intervention team did not have a direct interest in being employees of the municipality. None of them had applied for or been appointed to senior management positions in the municipality. This had not been a written condition in their contracts, but they needed people who would understand the need to assist the municipality without an eye to becoming senior managers. He confirmed that the day-to-day running of the municipality was improving. This was evident in the functioning of committees in council: the MPAC, audit committee, and section 79 committee were starting to work as expected and reports were being adopted.

Mr Morris Mataboge, Executive Mayor, Waterberg District Municipality, offered some information about the skills audit of the emergency services. In total, there were 28 environmental health practitioners, all of whom had either a National Diploma, Btech or Master’s Degrees, and all of whom had done a 12 month course of community service as required by the Health Professions Act. All posts were advertised in both national and local newspapers and all recruitment processes were followed. The firefighters employed in the district were also registered with the South African Emergency Services Institute, and vacancies in this area were advertised in both national and local newspapers.

Ms Sebati explained the mandate of SALGA in more detail. It included capacity-building, support and advice, and knowledge and information sharing. The presentations by Waterberg and Mogalakwena gave evidence of the type of support SALGA provided. Committees such as the MPAC were now better able to discharge their responsibilities. At Mogalakwena, the MPAC was able to submit an oversight report on the annual report for the first time in seven years. Audit results had also improved. These improvements were a direct result of SALGA’s support.

Mr Taueatsoala said that the SIU had handled the case of the 400 illegal employees. Of the 14 officials implicated, two had resigned, one had been dismissed and ten had been suspended. The municipality was now waiting for the SIU’s report on the matter. He did not want to interfere with the work of law enforcement on the issue of the assassination of the MPAC chairperson but confirmed that suspects had been arrested. He reported that the condition of municipal roads had improved since the Committee’s oversight visit, thanks to cooperation between the national Department of Public Works and the Limpopo Roads Agency. The SIU report would cover the issue of irregular bidding processes. There had been a meeting with Treasury on the unspent conditional grant at which the municipality had asked for two weeks to finalise the appointment of contractors and consultants to enable it to spend the grant. He said that he believed that some of the poor record-keeping was intentional. The Municipality had appointed an information technology (IT) company to assist with record-keeping. One of its responsibilities was to eliminate intentional obstruction of records. Mr Mashamaite was in fact one of the suspects implicated in the assassination of the MPAC chairperson. He was arrested in May and is currently in police custody. His salary had been terminated.

Ms Ravele said that the 1 459 participants in the CWP were employed through two programmes. The first, the innovative solid waste management programme, was being run by the MISA. This was a pilot programme that came through the presidential stimulus package. The second project was the normal CWP programme that was implemented through COGTA. The three projects in the construction phase were the Mookopi Mini Scheme, which was a water project, Jakkalskuil Cluster 1 and the completion of the Mabusela Route.

Mr Mpho Mogale, Executive Manager, COGTA, reported that the remodelling of the CWP was almost complete. He suggested that a written response to Mr Ceza’s question be provided and a full briefing be given once the remodelling was complete.

The Chairperson confirmed that the Committee asked the questions it had because it wanted to see better service delivery. They were not personal and were asked on behalf of the citizens they represented. He thanked Members and officials for engaging.

The meeting was adjourned.


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