Editor's choiceMunicipalNews

Mayor blames incapable officials for budget woes

‘Underspending is killing this municipality!’ - says uMhlathuze City Mayor

THE alarming 13% spend of the uMhlathuze capital budget with only four months to go before financial year-end has been labelled a ‘crisis’, with tender manipulation pinpointed as the root ‘evil’ cause.

Fed up of waiting for an explanation from senior managers, uMhlathuze City Mayor Elphas Mbatha reached ‘boiling point’ on Tuesday saying Councillors were tired of being ‘ignored’.

‘At the last Exco meeting, we asked for a full report from the Municipal Manager on the cause of the low capital spending. Yet we still receive no report. We are left guessing.

‘No amount of promises can comfort us at this stage. Frustrations are boiling,’ said Mbatha.

Councillors also pulled no punches about the state of financial affairs questioning the reasoning behind several tenders being cancelled as a result of ‘tender validity periods expiring’.

‘We need a full report detailing tender allocations and time frames so we know where the problem is,’ said Cllr Louis Fourie.

‘This is a worry to us as we are spending money to advertise tenders and then they are not executed,’ said Cllr M Mbokazi.

At the crux of the controversy is the composition and competency of the Bid and Evaluation Committee (BEC) – a body responsible for the awarding of crucial tenders at the municipality.

‘I warned of tender manipulation that appears to be taking place in our municipality,’ said Mbatha.

‘Last year, this municipality spent a lot of money and time fighting legal battles with unsuccessful bidders instead of providing services.

‘Contractors are then interdicted from commencing work until the legal dispute is resolved.

‘For example, R7-million was spent to settle a dispute out of court.

‘I urge the Municipal Manager to appoint competent and qualified personnel, particularly with regard to the BEC.’

With the Department of Technical Services and Infrastructure representing about 70% of the budget, Council queried why only one person from that department sat on the BEC.

‘The problem is at the top and in the tender committee.

‘Senior officials who manipulate tenders must resign or face the law,’ Mbatha said in an exclusive interview with the Zululand Observer.

Cllr Fourie said the municipality had to employ competent people to ensure the capital budget was spent.

‘This municipality must spend R30-million per month during the next four months or else we lose the money or it rolls over – but we already have a roll-over of R64-million.

‘For example, money earmarked for rural sanitation totalling R45-million has not been spent.

‘Eight months into the financial year, we should have spent about 70% by now,’ said Cllr Fourie.

In response, Chief Financial Officer, Mxolisi Kunene said he ‘could not answer’ whether the municipality would be able to spend R30-million per month over the next four months.

‘We are an accredited municipality in terms of housing provision yet we only spend 8% of the housing budget.

‘There is a huge demand for housing yet the speed at which we deliver is at a snail’s pace,’ said Cllr Mbokazi.

The Mayor said the municipality had set a target of building 5 000 VIP toilets in rural areas but by June -eight months later – not a single toilet had been built.

‘The fact that the municipality spent only 47.5 % of its capital budget last year means that service delivery did not occur in accordance with the approved service delivery budget implementation plan.

‘A concern is that the municipality is likely to fail to spend the capital budget again as by 31 December the municipality had only spent 15.76% instead of 50%.

‘I face the outrage from communities. It seems others are not taking it seriously,’ said Mbatha.

‘Under spending is killing this municipality!’

Breakdown of capital budget spend as of 31 January (only 13% of R467.8 million spent).

Sanitation – 18% spent

Solid waste – 1% spent

Water – 14% spent

Electricity – 7% spent

Road transport –14% spent

Health – 8% spent

Housing – 8%

Public Safety – 8%

Sport and Recreation – 5%

One Comment

  1. The mayor should not appear surprised. As long as we deploy people into positions based not on competence but loayalty to parties South Africa is going nowhere. The IFP did the same thing even during the Bantustan days hence uLundi is the laughing stock compared to other “capitals” like Mmabato

Back to top button