Polokwane council rebuts DA’s nepotism claims amid controversial report

Polokwane municipality refutes allegations of nepotism and irregularities made by the DA, despite findings in an independent report.

The Polokwane municipality in Limpopo has labelled accusations of nepotism and cadre deployment levelled against it by the Democratic Alliance (DA) untrue and far-fetched.

Last week, the DA in the council alleged the municipality, the biggest and most influential in the province, used political polarisation tactics during the appointment of Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers.

The party claimed ANC card-carrying people were given priority ahead of those belonging to other political parties and those whose political allegiances were unknown.

The allegations gained momentum after a report from an independent investigations firm, Bowman Gilfillan, appointed by the council, allegedly unearthed similar allegations.

But the Polokwane municipality refuted the allegations, claiming the third-biggest political party in the council (DA) was only grandstanding and that its claims were far-fetched and unfounded.

The party said investigations by Bowman Gilfillan had verified nepotism with respect to the appointment of EPWP workers by the council.

“As a result, we have launched a petition to demand fair and transparent processes in the appointment of EPWP workers, for equal opportunities to apply to all,” DA councillor Tiny Doraine Ramathabatha Chidi said.

She said currently only well-connected cadres were appointed in the municipality. The report, according to DA, also unearthed cases of:

  • Municipal officials misleading or lying to the public protector of South Africa;
  • Major irregularities in supply chain management processes;
  • Irregular expenditure of R137 million due to irregular appointment of a service provider who performed a pre-bid-evaluation process;
  • Fraud by a human resource official;
  • Altering documents to hide inadequacies;
  • Irregularities relating to scoring and interviews in human resource department;
  • Irregularities in the appointment of a bus service provider;
  • Allegations of tenders being awarded irregularly; and
  • Contraventions of the Municipal Finance Management Act among many other inaccuracies.

“We have requested full access to the entire report as councillors were only allowed access to a summarised version which was taken back by municipal officials due to the sensitive nature thereof.

“It is clear that the devil lies in the detail and that access to the full report is required to hold officials and public representatives accountable, which the ANC executive seems reluctant to do,” said Chidi.

In response, the council said: “We rubbish the claims by the DA. It is true there were findings with some control deficiencies regarding the recruitment process. However, the municipality follows the recruitment process when appointing,” said municipal spokesperson Thipa Selala yesterday.

Asked why the report was not made public, Selala said it was handed out but taken back as it contained sensitive and confidential information.

“Councillors were advised to access it whenever they needed to go through it,” he said.

Selala said it detailed allegations of wrongdoing and maladministration by employees, including by managers and directors.

“The council has decided to suspend two executive management officials for a disciplinary process.”

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