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Action to be taken on 106 report

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“We have decided to ensure that action is taken to implement the findings, regardless of the legal advice obtained.”

MEC for Coghsta, Bentley Vass. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE TEAM appointed to oversee the administration of Phokwane Municipality has committed to ensure that the recommendations of the Section 106 investigation report, which includes laying criminal charges against the former municipal manager, are implemented.

Up until today, the municipality has not provided any progress reports regarding the Section 106 investigation report, despite being given an ultimatum in February to provide feedback to the MEC of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta), Bentley Vass, who has since placed the municipality under administration.

Senior manager in Co-operative Governance, Mogami Manyeneng, yesterday explained that the time lag between the date that the Section 106 report was compiled in 2015 but only tabled in council in January this year, was because of changes in the administration.

“The report was commissioned by the previous MEC. The new MEC had to engage with the municipality and the administration regarding the investigation. The municipality referred the report for a legal opinion, although we are not exactly sure whose legal advice was sought on the matter,” said Manyeneng.

He added that the municipality was expected to provide a progress report on the matter on a monthly basis.

“We have decided to ensure that action is taken to implement the findings, regardless of the legal advice obtained.”

Manyeneng believed that, if warranted, internal disciplinary steps would be taken against officials who were responsible for allowing municipalities to deteriorate as well as for non-performance.

The HOD for Coghsta, Bafedile Lenkoe, was quick to point out that Phokwane Municipality had not been dissolved.

“Like most municipalities, Phokwane is experiencing difficulty in debt collection, where we will provide assistance. They must enter into payment agreements with its creditors, including Vaalharts Water, Sedibeng Water and Eskom, for services rendered. There will be stringent cost-cutting measures implemented and no extravagant spending permitted,” said Lenkoe.

He stated that the municipality had to start generating income.

“It cannot be classified as a grant dependent municipality. There has been no proper cash flow management.”

The MEC for Coghsta, Bentley Vass, stated that Phokwane Municipality was still in the process of obtaining legal advice pertaining to the Section 106 investigation report.

“The report was tabled in January but has not been implemented yet, due to a lack of political will. It will be the responsibility of the municipality to implement the findings and to decide what course of action should be taken,” said Vass.

He promised to implement a financial recovery plan and turnaround strategy at Phokwane Municipality within the next six months.

“The team will include officials from Treasury, Coghsta, Water Affairs and other relevant departments as well as a civil engineer and financial expert. A decision will be taken whether the administration of the municipality should be extended after the six-month period.”

Vass stated that the decision to stabilise the municipality by placing it under administration was taken by the executive and approved by Treasury, the National Council of Provinces and the minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

“There are a number of challenges, including escalating debts and a lack of service delivery. They have been unable to complete their annual financial statements There has been no chief financial officer, or municipal manager as she was placed on suspension.”

Vass indicated that they were aware of other municipalities in the Province, such as Dikgatlong Municipality, that are experiencing similar challenges.

“Section 139 should not be instituted without the relevant information or first providing the necessary interventions and support. It should not be considered as a harsh intervention.”

He said that they were also in the process of implementing a financial recovery plan at Dikgatlong Municipality.

Vass added that they were unable to proceed with the Section 106 investigation report at Sol Plaatje Municipality due to the interdict obtained by the suspended chief financial officer.