Debt collection deficiencies, massive electricity losses and 13 bank accounts belonging to the uMngeni Municipality.
These were some of the things that were brought to the attention of uMngeni’s newly-elected mayor, Chris Pappas, when he assumed his duties this week.
Pappas has also instructed department heads to compile reports detailing exactly what was happening in their respective units. “A lot of the problems that we face are linked to contracts that are in place, the inefficiency of our debt collection, money owed by other government departments and the high cost of electricity losses due to theft,” he said.
The new mayor said several areas needed urgent attention, including the cutting down on expenditure. “There are quite a lot of things that we need to find solutions to and we need to cut expenditure in certain places, and there are also a lot of opportunities for us to generate more income,” he said.
Pappas said they would investigate how they could use the signage policy to generate more income through advertisements. “At the same time, we need to start decreasing costs.”
He said the general managers would report on the state of their departments next Friday. “The reports will include active contracts where cost-cutting can be made, where they have vacancies, and where there are problems with plant and equipment,” said Pappas.
He added that this would guide the re-prioritisation of the municipality’s budget at a later stage.
Speaking on the municipality’s books and money available in the bank, Pappas said the new leadership had discovered that uMngeni had a total of 13 bank accounts, adding this was odd. “There are too many bank accounts, and we could cut down on the costs and also consolidate our investments,” he said.
Pappas said they would look at which bank offered the best interest rate before making any decisions.
He said that while it was normal for a municipality to have several bank accounts, the number of bank accounts in uMngeni’s name was too many.
During his engagement with the general managers, Pappas said he was told that understaffing remained a problem in uMngeni. “A lot of the issues are around budgets, specifically technical services and community services which deal with roads, water, electricity, street lights, parks, and waste management.”
He said department heads told him that the different units that were responsible for service delivery were severely short-staffed despite the budget being available to capacitate the teams.
“We have a high remuneration budget for vacant positions that are funded, but it’s not directed to this,” said Pappas.
The new mayor also revealed that he would be the chairperson for the local economic development and planning portfolio while deputy mayor, Sandile Mnikathi, would chair the community services as well as technical services portfolio committee.
Seasoned DA councillor Pam Passmoor would be responsible for corporate services and finance portfolio committees. Hazel Lake would be the chair of the council watchdog — the municipal public accounts committee (Mpac).
Nhlalayenza Ndlovu would be taking over the council whip duties while Thembelani Sikhakhane would be the caucus chairperson.