Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has ordered the Gamagara local municipality in the Northern Cape to replace its corporate services manager in the mayor’s office after she found that the appointee was not suitably qualified for the job.
This was part of a raft of findings Madonsela released against the municipality in Pretoria today, including improper cash payments to ward committee members, R16 000 irregularly spent on booze for municipal staff and the irregular payment for accommodation for the council’s chief financial officer.
Madonsela lamented the “general systemic failure” within the municipality. She conducted the investigation on the back of violent service-delivery protests which left the mayor’s house and car burnt to ashes by angry residents last year.
Madonsela also found that the municipality had failed to disclose irregular expenditure amounting to R40 million to the Auditor-General during last year’s audit when it disclosed irregular expenditure worth R6.4 million.
Part of the irregular expenditure was R27 000 the council had spent on calendars which had “misspelt” council names.
The council failed to call the service provider to account and left the matter unattended.
She expressed condolences to the family of the late Gamagara mayor Maria Diniza – whom Madonsela investigated for maladministration – who passed away last week.
During the service-delivery protests, angry community members had demanded that Diniza be fired.
Most of the residents’ allegations and complaints were “substantiated” during Madonsela’s probe. These include:
» Allowing Pastor David van der Westhuizen to collect sewage tariffs from residents while the council was also paying him for a sewage contract, causing the council to lose revenue;
» Irregularly overpaying a security company by R36 000;
» Recklessly and irregularly appointing a senior municipal official Gilbert Motlhaping, only a few weeks after he had resigned while being investigated for theft, even though he did not meet the basic requirements of having a licence and a tertiary qualification;
» Many of the houses in a project for 200 houses were left incomplete, with only foundations. Millions were spent and a mere R1.9 million is left;
» R67 000 paid by the council to renovate the municipal manager’s private residence;
» A R25 000 donation to cover funeral costs for a speaker in another council, despite the council’s indigent policy only allowing amounts of up to R1 300 for local residents only.
Madonsela also referred the conduct of police during the service-delivery protests to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate for investigation after a protester lost an eye and another his hearing.
Although the directorate had referred the docket to the National Prosecuting Authority, it was unclear what recommendation was made by the directorate, said Madonsela.
She has decided to institute a more “thorough” investigation into the R67 000 irregularly paid to renovate the municipal manager’s private residence after the council could not provide documents for the transaction.
She expressed concern that there was a general lack of financial management at the municipality and that the exact amount spent on the renovations was “unknown”.
She also ordered the municipality to start building a bridge within the next six months after she found that allegations by angry residents that the council had dropped plans for the construction of the bridge because of “maladministration” were “true”.
Madonsela contributed the failure of the bridge construction project and the housing project to a “systemic governance failure” within the council.
“The council did not ensure that the contract had a completion or deadline date. The council also failed to monitor that the money it was paying the service provider every month was being used and work was being done,” said Madonsela on the council’s bridge project.
She also ordered the council to build a 14-kilometre tar road, which it had promised in 2006.
The failure to construct the road had prevented children from going to school.
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