Limpopo Municipalities Bleeding Cash Paying Suspended VBS-Linked Officials


Riyaz Patel

Limpopo municipalities are haemorrhaging cash as a result of them still paying suspended officials who were involved in decisions to invest in the now collapsed Venda Mutual Bank (VBS).

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Parliament’s Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) said it’s concerned that these officials – mainly, municipal managers and chief financial officers – have already been found to have committed financial misconduct and are still being paid.

The Elias Motsoaledi Local Municipality, has, so far, forked out over
R900 000 to cover the salary of the suspended municipal manager, as well as paying the person currently serving as the acting municipal manager post.

To compound matters, the Committee said, is that the disciplinary process has been postponed indefinitely since 30 April 2019 with no clear timeline as to when the process will resume.

And it does not end there.

What is particularly regrettable is that the R900 000 is not inclusive of the legal fees the municipality continued to pay to deal with the case of the municipal manager.” said the committee chair, Faith Muthambi.

This matter smells of malicious compliance.”

“Many municipalities have long completed the disciplinary process with the municipal manager and chief financial officer, but there is seemingly no commitment from the leadership of Elias Motsoaledi to deal with the matter expeditiously.”

The Elias Motsoaledi Municipality promptly promised to deal with the matter within the next 30 days, with the Committee warning that the “fruitless and wasteful expenditure might lead to a regression in audit opinion in the current financial year.”  

Moving on to the Fetakgomo Tubatse Local Municipality, the Committee slammed as unacceptable that some of the R230mn lost through VBS includes the R80mn funding allocated for the Integrated National Electrification Programme (INEP), which directly impacted on the ability of the municipality to roll out an electrification programme.

Parliament’s CoGTA Committee noted that the municipality had gone through seven municipal managers since 2016 which has created a climate of instability and weakened governance within the municipality.

Furthermore, it said, the vacancy rate of almost 50% has negatively impacted on the ability of the municipality to service the people of Fetakgomo Tubatse.

The Committee firmly dismissed the assertion that the municipality is struggling to attract employees with the requisite skills as the Fetakgomo Tubatse Municipality is classed a special economic zone.

The “over-reliance on consultants” was also a worrying trend considering the municipality had a permanent CFO during the year under review.

The Committee will today engage with the Lepelle-Nkumbi, Mogalakwena and Thabazimbi municipalities.

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