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Committees only meeting now

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Some recommendations have been put on hold by more than a year due to the non-attendance of some officials at committee meetings.

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While ratepayers of Kimberley fork out more than R27 million on salaries and remuneration packages for the city’s 65 councillors, it’s been a slow start to the new year with most standing committees of council meeting for the first time this month since November last year.

Some recommendations awaiting decisions by these committees, meanwhile, have been put on hold by more than a year due to the non-attendance of some officials at committee meetings.

Several vital committees, including the Finance Committee and the Spelum Committee, which deals with all development in the city, last met in November last year.

The Spelum Committee meetings for December last year and February this year were both cancelled, while December’s Finance meeting was cancelled and February’s one was unable to sit as only one councillor arrived for the meeting and there was no quorum.

The Finance Committee met on Wednesday this week, while Spelum met on Thursday last week.

The Municipal Public Accounts Committee’s meeting, scheduled for December was cancelled, while two meetings set to take place in February were postponed. The postponed meeting, set to take place on March 1, was also cancelled.

The committee looks at the municipality’s monthly budget statements, as well as the audit opinion and the recommendations for the audit committee.

It is tasked with addressing the findings of the Auditor General’s report and monitoring the progress made against the tabled action plan by means of physical verification, analysing reports and other means.

The committee met earlier this week for the first time since November.

The Safety and Security meeting also last met in November after its February’s meeting could not take place as there was no quorum. At this month’s meeting, the committee had to consider a report, requested in October last year, on speed equipment currently being used by the Traffic Department and the options in terms of hiring versus purchasing speed law enforcement equipment.

A service level agreement between the Sol Plaatje Municipality and Kuyalanga Traffic Solutions came to an end in August 2016 already. It has been recommended that the Sol Plaatje Traffic Department acquires its own speed and red robot law enforcement equipment, which will cost an estimated R3 million.

Security

Last week’s scheduled meeting of the Safety and Security Committee was postponed until yesterday.

The last meeting of the Utility and Trading Services Committee, which was due to meet yesterday afternoon, was also in November last year after the December meeting was cancelled and there was no quorum for the two meetings scheduled in February.

This committee deals with infrastructure planning for electricity, water and sanitation and solid waste management.

A report on the status of maintenance projects within the water and sanitation services, including the repair of the Roodepan pump station, the provision of water services for Ivory Park, the repair of the broken sewer line in Peace Street and the repair of the Gogga outfall sewer main has been on the agenda of the committee for more than a year already.

At a Mayoral Committee meeting in January last year, it was resolved that the report, which was drawn up in 2016, be referred back to the Utility Trading Services for further discussion.

At the committee’s October meeting it was resolved that the item be held in abeyance until the relevant official attends and reports back at the next meeting, while in November last year, it was resolved that the item not be entertained due to the non-attendance of the official concerned. It was still on the agenda for yesterday’s meeting.

The same committee, in December 2016, requested that the CFO submits a written report at the next meeting on the cost benefit analysis for fleet hiring versus fleet purchasing at the landfill site. This report is still being awaited, as is a report requested in November 2016 form the Acting ED: Infrastructure and Services giving an overview of electrical services.

Monthly reports from December 2016 to August 2017 on work done by the electrical section as well as the water and sanitation section have also been held in abeyance and not discussed because the relevant official has not attended and reported back to the committee.

The same decision was taken regarding a report on the status quo of sanitation provision for all informal areas, as well as a report on waste management actions, activities and cleanliness of the city.

Meanwhile the inter-governmental committee, which should meet once a quarter, last met on June 22 last year after last month’s meeting, scheduled to take place on February 14, was cancelled.

Spokesperson for the Office of the Speaker, George Mosimane, said yesterday that the matter had been noted with concern.

“An assessment of the performance of the various committees is made by the Speaker on a regular basis and where it has been noted that there has been no performance or underperformance, the matter is referred to the Whips of the various political parties, who, in consultation with the Speaker, can invoke the Code of Conduct for Councillors.”

He added that the Speaker had picked up that some committees were not meeting regularly.

“There is a meeting for all councillors scheduled for Tuesday next week and the Mayor (Mangaliso Matika) has also been requested to assist in addressing the matter with councillors. This is being done as an intervention measure as the Speaker has noticed the problem.”

Mosimane added that all items before council should be discussed in the various committees before they are presented to council for ratification.

Regarding the non-attendance of officials at committee meetings, municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie, said yesterday that officials who presented items for the agendas of committees were expected to attend the meetings. “If officials fail to do so, disciplinary action can be taken against them for ill-discipline.”

He pointed out further that after the December council meeting, no committee meetings were scheduled for the remainder of December and January. “The Mayoral Committee and full Council have met as scheduled on the calendar, while most committees, with the exception of Utility, Finance and Safety met as scheduled in February.”