The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has instructed the leadership of eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality to ensure effective consequence management against the perpetrators of financial misconduct within the municipality.
The committee considers it unacceptable that the city has incurred a staggering R2.9 billion in unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful (UIFW) expenditure for the 2018/19 financial year. Lack of effective consequence management will lead to impunity and an increase in UIFW expenditure. It is in this context that the committee has called for speedy consequence management.
While the committee acknowledges the 436 disciplinary cases that are underway, it has called for their conclusion in order to set the municipality in a path towards regaining the confidence of the people of eThekwini. Furthermore, the fact that there is a backlog of reports that deal with UIWF, reinforces the perception that there is a lack of appetite to deal with corruption. The committee has requested the municipality for a detailed report within reasonable time, on the status of criminal charges against the City Manager regarding the Durban solid waste tender deal.
While the committee notes that the municipality has condoned R351 million of the irregular expenditure, it is disappointed that the city has not laid out a clear plan to investigate the irregular expenditure that has not been condoned. The committee has asked the municipality for urgent conclusion of all investigations to ensure that consequence management is implemented.
The committee has demanded a detailed implementation plan to deal with the backlog of 330 reports from the City Integrity and Investigations Unit. The implementation plan should have clear timelines on operationalising recommendations made in the reports. The lack of a plan to clear the backlog undermines the work of the integrity unit and promotes impunity within the municipality.
The committee raised concern regarding the low level of functionality of ward committees. "It is unacceptable that 56% of ward committees are not functional a problem which directly undermines Section 152 (1) (e) of the Constitution which enjoins municipalities to encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in the matters of local government. The question we ask ourselves is how is the municipality able to develop its IDPs without functional ward committees?" said Ms Faith Muthambi, the Chairperson of the committee.
Despite the existence of highly qualified workforce in the municipality, the committee was concerned by the unhappiness expressed by the community regarding the continuation of water and sewage leaks that disrupt the wellbeing of the community. The committee found it ironical that the municipality has adequately and highly skilled workforce to ensure that the quality of service it renders to the communities is of a highest standard, but on the contrary, it provides inadequate service.
The committee raised concerns that despite the growing population within the municipality, the Capital expenditures (CapEx) is seemingly going down which means that the residents are deprived of services. Despite that, however, the committee welcomed the information that the municipality has put aside 8% of its budget for operations and maintenance which will extend the lifespan of the municipality's infrastructure.
The national and provincial department of cooperative governance have been requested to urgently assist the municipality in getting over R1 billion owed to the municipality by government departments to help ease the cash flow challenges the municipality is facing.
Another area of concern for the committee remains the municipality's high expenditure on security related service. While the committee acknowledged the problem of political killings in the province, it has cautioned against the excessive spending on security. The municipality has been requested to provide a proof of a risk and threat analysis conducted by the South African Police Service, to substantiate the need for additional bodyguards for the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Speaker and Councillors.
The committee has resolved to meet with the municipality at a later date upon receiving written responses to unanswered questions.