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‘Politicians meddling in municipal affairs’

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Allegations that a petition was drawn up to motivate for Moeketsi's removal

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THE ACTING municipal manager at Dikgatlong Municipality in Barkly West, Kgotso Moeketsi, has been hastily removed from his post, apparently due to political interference where multimillion-rand tenders stand to be awarded.

The post, which was advertised in April, is still vacant and the municipality is in the process of finding a replacement.

Moeketsi served as acting municipal manager from 2015 until June this year.

Sources at the municipality stated that a petition was drawn up to motivate for Moeketsi’s removal as he was not bowing to the whims of certain politicians.

“He refused to make funds available from the municipality to transport ‘friends of delegates’ to the ANC provincial elective conference in Colesberg. Politicians have free reign over the municipality,” said the sources.

Officials also complained of gross interference and micro-management at the municipality, where they said acts of fraud, lawlessness, corruption and nepotism were allowed to flourish.

Sources stated that Moeketsi was instructed to award a tender for the oxidation ponds in Windsorton to a particular contractor after the closing date to submit tenders had lapsed.

“It appears as if Moeketsi was removed before the tender for the construction of the oxidation ponds was adjudicated upon, to bypass supply chain management procedures,” they said.

“The acting municipal manager was also ordered to appoint a security service provider, upon recommendation of a certain politician.”

It was reported that due to financial troubles, salaries were being paid out of the conditional grant.

Moeketsi apparently refused to appoint an accountant who did not possess the relevant qualifications and was not shortlisted for the position.

Sources stated that the shortlisting of candidates had to be approved by the ANC before any appointments were made.

It is alleged that Moeketsi processed payment for a roads and stormwater project in Proteahof, Delportshoop, despite instructions not to proceed until high-ranking politicians had engaged with the contractor.

Spokesperson for the Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta), Xhanti Teki, stated that Moeketsi was seconded to Dikgatlong Local Municipality as it faced financial challenges that were impacting on its ability to meet its financial commitments and to provide sustainable basic services.

“During his tenure at Dikgatlong Municipality, the municipality managed to move from a disclaimer audit opinion to unqualified audit opinion, something that occurred for the first time since the establishment of the municipality in 2000. This progressive move in audit outcome affirms that the departments’ secondment of Moeketsi to Dikgatlong Municipality had an immense positive impact,” said Teki.

He added that Moeketsi had succeeded in addressing rampant corruption within the finance department, implementing adherence to supply chain management processes, ensuring that salaries were paid and that funds were used for operational purposes.

“Internal and monitoring controls were tightened. No incidents of fraud and corruption were reported since his secondment.”

Teki pointed out that three officials in the finance department were dismissed, while the vacancies of the budget officer, chief financial officer and accountant had been filled.

“Supply chain management processes were centralised and adhered to in the strictest possible manner with no influence whatsoever from anyone, including councillors.

“The Municipal Infrastructure Grant, which was previously used to pay salaries, was subsequently ring-fenced and used for the purposes it was intended for.”

Teki added that officials were seconded to improve financial sustainability and governance.

“The MEC for Coghsta is resolutely committed in exercising his political authority in as far as municipalities are concerned. Moeketsi is exemplary in as far as secondments are concerned.

“In as far as non-municipal personnel are concerned, the MEC cannot account for conduct of such persons. However, what can be stated unequivocally is that the primary role of political party caucus structures is to assess implementation of manifesto imperatives.”

ANC Frances Baard regional spokesperson, Ali Diteme, stated that the Regional Executive Committee (REC) was not aware of the circumstances surrounding the removal of the acting municipal manager.

“We have not instructed any regional member to manage any process of deployment and/or redeployment of any official at the municipality,” said Diteme.

He stated that the shortlisting of candidates was the responsibility of the council in consultation with Coghsta.

“The ANC does not get involved in the awarding of tenders. We never mandated anyone to act on our behalf on any tender at Dikgatlong. Those individuals should have been acting on their own, not on behalf of the ANC.”

Diteme pointed out that all municipalities were expected to comply and follow the legal framework guiding the awarding of tenders, without any interference from politicians who sought to influence the outcomes of the adjudication committees.

“Anyone transgressing the law must be reported to the law enforcement agencies and the law must simply take its course. This is in line with the promotion of good governance and organisational renewal. The ANC must lead a fight against corruption in all the key sites of power.”

ANC provincial secretary, Deshi Ngxanga, stated that the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) were also not informed about why the acting municipal manager’s contract at Dikgatlong Municipality had been terminated.

“We were not briefed by the council nor did we ask for an explanation due to the hectic programme of the PEC. This matter will be discussed with our public representatives and a full explanation will be given in due course.”

Ngxanga urged all ANC members to end internal fights and bickering.

“Our people are not interested in the internal squabbles of the ANC, they want better service delivery.”

Moeketsi stated that it was “not protocol” to comment when he was contacted yesterday.