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By Eric Naki

Political Editor


Makana citizens tackle council head-on and demands accountability

The five MCF “rainbow nation” councillors comprise black, white and coloured members elected during last November’s local election.


The newly established Makana Citizens Forum (MCF) is making waves as its councillors demand the local municipality’s senior management account for bad financial reports and a disclaimer from the auditor-general (AG). In a display that showed the culture of rubber-stamping reports is over, MCF councillors called for answers from the municipal manager, Moppo Mene, and his officials for the disclaimer report and the huge debt incurred. The five MCF “rainbow nation” councillors comprise black, white and coloured members elected during last November’s local election. The forum regards itself as a civic movement more than a political party and its aim…

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The newly established Makana Citizens Forum (MCF) is making waves as its councillors demand the local municipality’s senior management account for bad financial reports and a disclaimer from the auditor-general (AG).

In a display that showed the culture of rubber-stamping reports is over, MCF councillors called for answers from the municipal manager, Moppo Mene, and his officials for the disclaimer report and the huge debt incurred.

The five MCF “rainbow nation” councillors comprise black, white and coloured members elected during last November’s local election.

The forum regards itself as a civic movement more than a political party and its aim is to install a people-centred government in Makana in the Eastern Cape.

It was founded to fight for people’s rights and service delivery and was the product of a struggle against illegal dumping and residents’ fight against the previous ANC-led council’s service delivery ineptitude. The councillors showed themselves to be oversight experts during a special council meeting on Friday as they demanded answers from Mene.

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The municipality failed to disclose bad debt that was written off and not accounted for, or presented on the financial performance and financial statement. The AG found Makana’s debt of R123.8 was understated by R5.5 million in debt impairment.

The AG pointed to lack of proper accounting procedures, noncompliance with supply chain rules and insufficient audit evidence regarding unauthorised expenditures that amounted to R577.4 million.

Among the material irregularities identified it was found full and proper records were not kept and no steps were taken to rectify this. Its expenditure for general expenses was not accounted for in terms of the accounting rules.

The expenditure was wrongly recognised and some of it not recognised at all, which resulted in general expenses expenditure being understated by R9.7 million. Makana’s irregular expenditure disclosure was unreliable as it was not based on accurate and completed underlying accounting records.

Also, there were no reasons given for noncompliance with supply chain management requirements, nor were supporting documents produced.

“Superior logic and the interests of the citizens of Makana prevailed in the special council meeting that heard a presentation of the auditor-general’s report. MCF, with its five councillors, brought a breath of fresh air into the corridors of Makana local municipality,” said MCF interim convenor and councillor Lungile Mxube.

The tabling of the recent AG report brought about a paradigm shift in the manner the council had approached this most report. He said in the past, the ANC used to adopt the report without any critical analysis, robust engagement or demanding accountability from the accounting officer.

“Today, MCF has led a charge, almost dominating with their robust engagement and cogent arguments presented over the report. The MCF expressed disgust at the depressing picture painted by the AG over the bad financial governance of Makana.

“There was nothing good in the report. The MCF councillors argued the report will only serve one objective – to damage investor confidence and destroy public confidence in the municipality.” Mxube said the council should take “tough action”.

The AG also identified serious policy gaps, limitations and risks.

ericn@citizen.co.za

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