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Official’sfuture upin the air


Provincial government has ordered that a forensic investigation be conducted into various allegations at Dikgatlong Municipality

ABOVE: Dikgatlong municipal manager Kagisho Modise and mayor Dorothy Mbizeni. Picture: Danie van der Lith

DESPITE a council resolution to place the Dikgatlong Municipality chief financial officer (CFO) on special leave with immediate effect, no final decision could be taken on the future of the CFO, Levona Itumuleng, which was debated during a chaotic special council meeting that was disrupted yesterday.

A community meeting was held late yesterday afternoon in Barkly West to decide if protest action will continue, where great dissatisfaction was expressed over the inaction of provincial government in regards to the community’s list of grievances.

Provincial government has ordered that a forensic investigation be conducted into various allegations at Dikgatlong Municipality.

Yesterday’s special council meeting was convened upon instruction of the MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Cogshta), Bentley Vass, and Premier Sylvia Lucas, where opposition parties insisted that the CFO should be placed on precautionary suspension.

Dikgatlong mayor Dorothy Mbizeni unsuccessfully tried to make the EFF and independent councillors sit down during the meeting as they were constantly raising points of order.

Mbizeni said that the technical services manager would also be placed on special leave, while Radiile Shuping would be appointed as the acting CFO.

An official from Frances Baard District Municipality, as well as a technician from the Department of Public Works, will be seconded to Dikgatlong municipality to accelerate service delivery.

EFF councillor Moeketsi Konote said the CFO should be investigated for financial misconduct.

He also encouraged the mayor to step down and blamed her for the collapse of the municipality.

“Her deployees will ensure that she has alternative grazing land. The ANC chief whip looks like he is running a chicken farm. The CFO is a danger to the municipality and should be suspended.”

Independent councillor Mently Bezuidenhout added that the CFO had flouted supply chain management procedures and was responsible for irregular and wasteful expenditure.

“A paper folding machine, at a cost of R45 000 per month, that no one knows how to operate. Supply chain management procedures were flouted with the appointment of the property valuator where a tender of R1.2 million was awarded while there is only R350 000 in the budget. The CFO authorised retention money to be paid irregularly to Ezekiel Moeti Construction.”

Bezuidenhout was, however, not satisfied with the appointment of the acting CFO, whom he indicated was a junior official.

He said that due to the impasse yesterday, no final decision was taken over the CFO.

DA councillor Daisy Hendricks added that council was in dire financial trouble due to mistakes that were repeatedly ignored by council.

“The CFO should have been suspended a long time ago. It appears as if she is being protected by the ruling party,” said Hendricks.

She stated that the CFO was due to go on maternity leave in two weeks’ time, where an acting CFO would have to be appointed.

“The opposition refused to vote on placing the CFO on special leave and the meeting was adjourned after it was disrupted.”

Hendricks indicated that council had received R7.5 million from the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation to repair the sewage problems. “The contractor was at Barkly West Primary on two occasions, where each time the pump was temporarily fixed. It broke twice in a space of two weeks.”

Spokesperson for the Office of the Premier, Bronwyn Thomas-Abrahams, said that provincial government had recommended that Dikgatlong Municipality place the CFO on special leave.

“Pending the outcome of a fact-finding mission by the Department of Coghsta, a determination will be made as to whether any corrective measures are be taken. The premier and the MEC are also in contact with the ANC with regard to the alleged improper conduct of the deployed mayor.”

She stated that council had been requested to review its credit control policy and to also consult with the community for their input. “Council should also schedule a meeting with Eskom to re-negotiate payment terms and develop a realistic payment plan.”