Days after mayor’s resignation, Govan Mbeki municipality falls under administration

Cogta's Mandla Msibi says the municipality was hamstrung because the mayor Thandi Ngxonono had resigned, and the municipal manager and the chief financial officer were suspended.

Allegations of fraud, corruption and maladministration still continue beyond the Section 106 investigation report, Mandla Msibi, the Mpumalanga MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), revealed in an overview presentation on the Govan Mbeki Local Municipality to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

He announced that the executive council resolved to place the municipality under administration in terms of Section 139(1)(b) for the next six months.

In the presentation, Msibi revealed that there was an increase in irregular, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure with no consequence management.

He said the report confirmed that there was political interference in governance and normal operations of administration, with indications of serious violations of the local government legislation, and that some councillors and officials were implicated in acts of gross wrongdoing.

Msibi said there were factional battles and that the council was not united on issues of service delivery.

“The non-functioning of MPACs [municipal public accounts committees], the disciplinary board and the S79 disciplinary committee of council to probe and act spontaneously on allegations of wrongdoing by councillors and officials, adds to the concerns over the functionality crisis.

“The staff morale has hit bottom levels due to rampant fraud and corruption that is not met with concomitant action and law enforcement.

“Interference in administration has resulted in skills drainage as some valuable officials have either opted to resign or have been rendered redundant within the administration.”

He said the intervention came at the right time because the municipality was hamstrung because the mayor Thandi Ngxonono had resigned, and the municipal manager and the chief financial officer (CFO) were suspended.

He said there was no need for a new mayor and mayoral committee. Cogta was going to court to obtain a declaratory order to set aside the appointment of the CFO.

The Sakhisizwe Progressive Movement (Sapromo) welcomed the decision to place municipality under administration, and said this shows that the ANC leadership had failed to govern adequately, and that it should not be trusted again to lead such an important sphere of government.

“Why wait for things to go into a complete mess before the intervention? We have to wait and see if this intervention will yield any results,” said Sapromo leader Sibusiso Hlolweni.

“We are happy that at least now the political interference by certain incompetent politicians will be reduced since there is no more executive to misuse power to personally benefit from the coffers of the municipality, as outlined in the Section 106 report.

“We are worried though because corruption in our municipality was encouraged from the top ranks of the government led by the ANC. Those who were deployed into the municipality came from the top ranks, we have to wait and see then if this is not going to be another one of those incompetent people deployed with a mandate to carry on with the looting business.”

The DA also welcomed the decision, even though it took long to happen.

Ciska Jordaan, the DA caucus leader in the municipality, said that unfortunately while the council was contemplating intervening for an unreasonably long period of time, the ANC-led municipality has managed to rack up billions in Eskom and Rand Water debt.

“Residents of the munipality have been suffering for far too long under the dysfunctional and mismanaged Govan Mbeki municipality.

“It is our hope that this intervention will clamp down on the continuous political interference and looting that is taking place in this municipality so that services can be rendered to the people.”

Msibi said Cogta would remain vigilant to ensure that the recommendations of the Section 106 report are implemented and that law enforcement agencies do their work.

Republished from Caxton publication Ridge Times.

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