NEWS & ANALYSIS

Lack of consequence management in Tshwane encourages impunity - Parliament

COGTA Committee says oversight and accountability structures are not effective

Lack of consequence management at City of Tshwane encourages impunity

14 October 2020

The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) is concerned by the lack of appetite to speedily and decisively deal with financial misconduct within the City of Tswane, which contributes to the culture of impunity.

“The committee raised concerns that oversight and accountability structures are not effective, leading to a lack of consequence management. For example, the recommendations made in the forensic investigation report into the GladAfrica infrastructure contract have not yet been implemented and consequence management has not been executed. This is a concern and requires urgent action,” said Ms Faith Muthambi, the Chairperson of the committee.

Also concerning are the many other reports about financial misconduct that have not been acted upon, with 16 reports being processed by the municipality’s Financial Disciplinary Board. The committee has called on the municipality’s senior management and the administrators to rectify the matter urgently. If the municipality does not act on these cases, malfeasance will continue and become a culture within the municipality. 

The committee also raised concerns that in 2019 the Auditor-General reported 319 cases of alleged irregularities, financial misconduct, theft and non-compliance, which were still in progress then, and only 31 investigations were completed but not implemented.

The committee is also concerned that the municipality appears to be in a state of flux, with uncertainty over who must enforce accountability, especially in the absence of oversight by council as a result of the invocation of Section 139 (1) (c) of the Constitution.

The general deterioration of the city is also a concern, with an increase in littering, illegal dumping and general decay. “It is concerning that South Africa’s capital city is in a state that it finds itself currently, especially with no visible plan to deal with the matter. The committee has thus urged the city to look at ways to deal with the proliferation of filth within the city and return it to its pristine previous state,” Ms Muthambi emphasised.

Regarding infrastructure development, the committee is concerned about the municipality’s lack of care in spending the Urban Settlement Development Grant, with many projects unfinished and impacting on service delivery. The capex budget is also biased towards new development rather than maintenance, which reduces the lifespan of infrastructure. The city also outsourced infrastructure development management to one, irregularly appointed, company. This placed the municipality at risk when the contract was discontinued.

The committee is also concerned that despite R213 million spent on consultants to correct the fixed asset register and verify assets material findings on assets were still identified, including R367 million of completed projects that were not incorrectly categorised. In addition, they were not depreciated due to inadequate control monitoring, such as linking the completion of projects with financial reporting.

In addition, the municipality incurred high irregular expenditure because preventative controls were not monitored. This resulted in non-compliance with supply chain management protocols. The committee has requested a detailed plan on how the municipality will deal with this matter.

Regarding the functionality of ward committees, the committee is concerned by the dissolution of ward committees and the non-establishment of alternative structures to enable community participation in the municipality’s affairs. The committee has thus demanded a comprehensive outline on the national Department of Cogta’s view on the functionality and future of the ward committee model.

Regarding the Rooiwal waste water treatment plant, the committee is concerned by the contractual bickering that has delayed the development of infrastructure to deal with the dumping of untreated waste water into the Appies River. Nonetheless, the committee acknowledges the work that has been done to address this challenge, but has calls for a comprehensive plan to address the inadequate infrastructure.

The committee will today engage City of Tshwane stakeholder to hear their views on the state of municipal service delivery.      

Issued by Malatswa Molepo, Media Officer, Parliamentary Communication Services, 14 October 2020