The DA today laid criminal charges against the acting Municipal Manager of Ikwezi, based on his grossly negligent handling of the municipality’s finances. The charge carries a possible 5-year jail sentence.
The Ikwezi municipality had to rely on a loan from the Sarah Baartman District Municipality to be able to pay salaries this week. This is a repeat of exactly the same situation in June last year and the year before, as well as in October last year.
The DA has long protested about financial mismanagement in this municipality.
On three occasions, the DA has laid criminal charges of fraud and corruption against the municipal manager and his then-legal advisor. No investigations have been done. In December the DA laid a charge of theft against the Municipal Manager for receiving service payments from residents, and then not delivering the relevant services.
After relentless pressure from the DA, the MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs commissioned a forensic audit of the municipality’s finances in 2014; a similar audit was commissioned by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. No reports detailing the findings of these investigations have ever have been publicly tabled.
It was only after the auditor general issued a second consecutive audit disclaimer that the mayor was forced to take action. The municipal manager was suspended two years ago; he remains on paid leave, with the municipality no closer to resolution of the matter.
The MEC assigned a Municipal Manager to take charge of the administration of the municipality. However, debt levels have increased under his watch. Ikwezi Municipality is unable to pay Eskom for its electricity supplies, and has been repeatedly unable to pay salaries. Provincial intervention has not borne fruit. Instead, the situation has worsened.
Minister Pravin Gordhan, as Minister of Cooperative Governance, last year requested the Municipal Demarcation Board to merge Ikwezi with the Baviaans and Camdeboo Municipalities, with the merger taking effect after the forthcoming elections. This was yet another example of the ANC refusing to take real action against utter incompetence. Instead, it will be hidden, and ratepayers of other areas will be required to foot the bills that this administration has incurred.
The DA will govern the new merged municipality. This is the single glimmer of hope in this messy situation.
Until this happens later this year, the Ikwezi municipality will continue to operate. Action must be taken to ensure that a reasonable level of management prevails until then. The residents of the municipality do not deserve any less.
To this end, the DA will:
- Lay criminal charges against the Municipal Manager, in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act, for his gross negligence in the management of Ikwezi finances;
- Utilize the Promotion of Access to Information Act to obtain the reports detailing the findings of the two forensic investigations to determine whether any other municipal role players are criminally liable;
- Write to the MEC of Local Government and to the Minister of Cooperative Governance, demanding that the investigation into the suspended municipal manager’s mismanagement be expedited;
- Petition the Minister to admit that the provincial intervention has not succeeded, and demand from the Minister that section 139(1)(c) of the Constitution now be invoked, thus dissolving the current, entirely incompetent Ikwezi council, and appointing a competent administrator to take charge of municipal affairs.
Local residents and municipal staff have suffered enough at the hands of the current regime.
The DA in this municipality will not rest until good governance prevails.
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